Juniors show love of sports by working as referees May 20, 2015 — by Gwynevere Hunger Junior Kanaai Shah started refereeing soccer games in 2013 after completing an AYSO referee class with a couple of his friends. He recalls how his soccer career a number of years ago in AYSO motivated him to apply for the job. The moment he blew the whistle junior Kanaai Shah, then an eighth grader and a rookie soccer referee, knew he had made a mistake. He had called an offsides in a competitive game between Salinas and De Anza Force as Force scored. Shah quickly realizes that he has made the call on the wrong team when parents from both teams yell angrily at him as he tried to correct his mistake. This was his first experience as a referee for a competitive game and preview of the difficulties of officiating in an intense atmosphere. Since this experience, Shah has learned to pay much closer attention to the exact calls he makes during games and being a ref has deepened his knowledge of the game he loves. “I realized that refereeing AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) soccer games would help me build a solid foundation to referee competitive games while making money at the same time,” Shah said. “This would also help me in my own soccer playing skills.” Shah started refereeing soccer games in 2013 after completing an AYSO referee class with a couple of his friends. He began by reffing AYSO games on Saturdays when youth soccer was in season and recalls how his soccer career a number of years ago in AYSO motivated him to apply for the job. A youth soccer referee is required to attend an eight-hour introductory class before being allowed to work hour-long games on the weekend. AYSO games occur across the Bay Area, so students can referee at Redwood in the spring and Congress Springs Park in the fall. Referees self sign up the number of games they want to work since there is no game requirement. Youth referees such as Shah and Mokhlesi also get additional volunteer hours for every game that they referee. Referring AYSO is voluntary, but competitive soccer game referees get paid $15 to $40 for every game. Due to his busy schedule, Shah does not currently referee for AYSO but said the time commitment was not too heavy. He stopped this job simply because he did not have enough time to keep up with school and club soccer. Junior Navid Mokhlesi has also followed his love for soccer by signing up to work as an AYSO referee. Prior to becoming an official, Mokhlesi was also trained by an adult mentor to learn more specific calls. For Shah, his favorite part of being a referee is sharing his passion for soccer with a younger generation. “My favorite part of this job is trying to do a better job than all of the other lousy referees I have been complaining about for years,” Shah said. Mokhlesi shares Shah’s interest in that he also finds this experience to be rewarding. “Seeing the kids have so much fun and play soccer with so much energy gives me the needed energy to get through the mounds of homework I have when I get home,” Mokhlesi said.