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News - Details

The Small Sided Referee Certification Course Scored Big Since Inception In March 2022

Indiana Soccer is excited to announce the successful rollout of the Small-Sided Referee Certification Course since its launch in March 2022. Thanks to the staff at various clubs across the state for supporting the initiative that saw an excellent turnout of enthusiastic adults and young referees that completed the course. At least 335 new young (and a few older) new referees trained and are now ready to help fill the needs of our 4v4, 7v7, and 9v9 play format games.  

This would not have been possible without the support from the following clubs across the state of Indiana: Batesville Soccer Club, Boilers FC, Indy Premier SC, Zionsville Youth Soccer, Delaware County FC, NWI Lions United, Union County Youth Soccer, Rangers, Washington Soccer Federation, Blue River Soccer Club, Henry County Youth Soccer, Putnam County YSA, Naptown United, Fort Wayne Sport Club, & Indiana Fire Juniors. 

George Perry, ISL Commissioner noted that “The goal is to have a minimum of one & a half referees for every team in a club. The support of our clubs is extremely important and if the support we have received from the clubs so far continues, we will be able to meet these goals. While this is only part of the solution, it has been a tremendous start.” 

The course kicked off with a PowerPoint presentation facilitated by Steve Franklin, Indiana Soccer’s Director of Coaching, and George Perry, Indiana Soccer’s Director of Competition, assisted by Angel Hall, Indiana Soccer’s Associate Director who answered questions related to registration, etc.

Participants had the unique opportunity to learn course content in a classroom-style format followed by small group break-out sessions and on-the-field sessions to promote information retention, increased engagement, and foster meaningful dialogue.  

“The course is designed to bring youth players into the world of officiating, albeit in an introductory fashion. The idea is to build the foundation of our referee pool while breaking down any fears of refereeing. The participant's response has been tremendous; overwhelmingly enjoyed and excited to be involved.” stated Steve Franklin, Director of Coaching Education 

One highlight of the course was when participants learned how to use the officiating flag; a session that most found remarkably interesting and eye-opening. The course covered key elements of the 4v4, 7v7, and 9v9 rules and applications. Participants were challenged to participate through question and answer, leading, and the facilitation & signaling demonstration. 

“It is great to see clubs more involved in the development of the only program in the country to educate and certify referees to work Small-Sided Games.” 

“The Indiana State Referee Association and Indiana Soccer have shared this two-year program with two other states, and we continue to get inquiries on how to use this Small Sided Game certification in more states to help with the development of referees and increasing the numbers of the trained referees.” 

“We encourage other clubs in Indiana to take a more active role in helping train and certify referees not only in the Small Sided Game certification of referees but also in the full-sided game as well” stated Samir Yasa, ISRA DRA. 

Dave Guthrie, Executive Director of the Indiana Soccer had this to say about the program, "Historically, we have used the analogy of a three-legged-stool when discussing the aspects of the game; referees being one, particularly important leg to the stool. We have not invested adequately in the referee leg of the stool in recent years, and as such are unable to meet the current demand for referees.

I want to personally thank the folks at all the clubs that hosted the course for investing in the much-needed growth of our referees. Please allow me to encourage all member clubs to consider joining these clubs by hosting a small-sided referee course and to encourage all club member adults to take the Guardians of the Game (club assistant referee) on-line course. Note that the State Referee Committee continues to offer the full U.S. Soccer full-sided referee course. Information about all these opportunities can be found by visiting the links listed below".

About The Small Sided Referee Certification Course 

Indiana Soccer and the Indiana State Referee Association are aware of the significant shortage of referees. While there are many reasons for the shortage, the purpose of this communication is to Invite member clubs to be a part of a corrective solution by hosting referee courses. Member club participation in addressing this challenge is imperative. Hosting referee courses is only one piece of a more comprehensive approach to addressing the issue, however, it is an important piece and one each club can participate.  

The goal is to schedule multiple USSF Referee Certification courses in each region of the state.  

Small-sided referee courses are also part of the overall strategy to mitigate the small referee pool. Each member club is expected to host at least one Small-Sided Referee Certification course each year, and preferably more than one. Clubs may work together to host a course.  

A third piece of the strategy to mitigate the referee shortage is to have club assistant referees available for each game scheduled. These assistant referees are being termed, Guardians of the Game. To accomplish this, every Indiana Soccer team will be required to have a minimum of two individuals, 12 years of age and older, complete the Guardian of the Game program (see below).  

Indiana Soccer has engaged Ball State University to complete an analysis of why a significant number of referees have withdrawn from refereeing games. Ball State will also be working with Indiana Soccer and its membership to develop mitigation strategies to counter the excessive turnover rate related to referees. More information on this challenge will be shared soon.  

There are three programs available to clubs:  

1 - USSF Referee Certification  

Individuals that complete this course will be eligible to work as a center or assistant referee for any US Soccer game.  

Link to the referee website for more information on USSF Referee Certification.  

2 - Indiana Soccer Small-Sided Referee Certification  

Individuals (of any age, 12 and above) who complete this course will be eligible to work as a center or assistant referee for any Indiana Soccer sanctioned small-sided game (9v9, 7v7, 4v4).  

Link to the Indiana Soccer website for more information on Small-Sided Referee Certification. This link provides information on how clubs can sign up to host a course. Once a course has been confirmed, this link will allow individuals to sign up for a course.  

3 - Club AR – Guardian Program   

The Guardian Program allows each team to have certified individuals who can step in to work as a club AR when one or two referees are not available to referee a scheduled game. Every Indiana Soccer registered team is required to have a minimum of two individuals to complete the Club AR-Guardian of the Game registration.  

Link to the Indiana Soccer’s Guardian of the Game registration and the program itself.  

Your Indiana Soccer staff looks forward to working with all members to grow this aspect of our game together.  

 “The ISRA is very excited about the Small-Sided Referee Certification initiative and we strongly encourage clubs to fully support it as it will help increase the number of referees to cover all the games and cub the shortage of soccer officials” stated Samir Yasar stated, Indiana State Referee Association SRA.