One of the most challenging activities within soccer is to become a game official. It is rewarding to be involved in a leadership position - to ensure the safety of the players, to keep the match flowing, protect the skilled players and to encourage fair play and enjoyment by the participants.
Individuals who are 12-years of age or older are welcome to take the initial training course to become a referee, the Class 4 Entry Level Course. This program combines classroom instruction with on-field practical skills. Training is designed to prepare individuals for the referee role - the person responsible for the smooth operation of the match.
Once certified as a referee, individuals gain experience, attend further education and training sessions and then can receive opportunities to officiate games played at the higher levels.
The promotional path for referees is an important indicator of the experience and skills that a game official has developed. Referees are encouraged to continue to develop their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. The starting point as an official is as a C4 with other classifications as C3, C2, C1 and then entry in the National Program as a Nominated National Referee.
Other than the minimum age of 12-years (as of April 1st) to become a Class 4 Referee and the minimum age of 16-years to become a Class 3 Referee, classification as an official for other levels is based on performance criteria like on-field assessments, written examinations and fitness testing. The maximum age for entry into the National Program is 40-years of age.
The Referee Development Program of the Ontario Soccer Association Mission Statement
"To prepare and certify referees for the club, district, regional, and provinical levles of the game"
Club Head Referee
The Ontario Soccer Association Policy provides that "all clubs which operate a youth club league must have a Club Head Referee.
The Club Head Referee is an important person in the proper functioning of a Club and should be involved in all decision-making effecting referees. Specifically, the Club Head Referee must be aware of the needs within the Club for referees to officiate regular season and tournament games.
Some of the key responsibilities of this position include:
- Recruitment of new referees
- Retention of experienced referees
- Reward systems to encourage referees
- Organizing on-going training opportunities
- Organizing mentor programs
- Scheduling referees (in some Clubs)
- Payment of referee fees (in some Clubs)
- Preparation and administration of referee program budgets