Student referees: dealing with the pressures of the game

February 7, 2020 — by Bill Yuan

Sophomore Ryan Huang works as a soccer referee. For the past three years, he has reffed games for NORCAL Soccer and AYSO. 

Huang reffs for all age groups in NORCAL and AYSO, and gets paid for NORCAL games depending on the age group and position. For center referee, he gets paid between $40 and $65 per game, and for assistant referee, between $25 to $50.

Huang started reffing soccer after his dad introduced him to the idea, and he thought it would be fun. 

It was a side of soccer that he had never experienced before. “It’s also nice receiving appreciation from players and parents for reffing the game,” he said.

Huang, who refs both the center and assistant referee positions, often calls plays as offsides, in which the forwards are behind the opponent’s defensive line, sometimes preventing a goal-scoring opportunity. When this happens, the opposing team and crowd tends to get riled up, but Huang has learned to deal with their complaints.

“It is best to ignore them and continue to play the game,” Huang said. “When there is a large decision, I just make the call I think is right because the parents can't do anything about it.”

Not surprisingly, Huang’s own skill as a midfielder on the JV soccer team comes in handy in his role as an official. What is perhaps a surprise are the benefits he has gotten on the pitch from his experience as a referee.

“By knowing the rules and by knowing the small things that not many other players may know, it can give me an advantage when playing,” Huang said. 

At the same time, Huang has more compassion for the referees making controversial calls in the games he plays. “The referee is just trying to make the game run as smooth as possible,” he said. 

Along giving him a deeper knowledge of the game, reffing has taught him crucial lessons in decisiveness, commitment and attentiveness. 

“Refereeing is a good experience to have,” Huang said. “It develops leadership and communication skills that can be applied to future jobs.”

 

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