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Keeping the Game Safe, Fair, and Fun

Why should you become an AYSO Referee? Being out on the field to work with the kids is good exercise AND great fun! If you are in Jr High or High School, you might need to earn Community Service Hours... this is a fun way to give back by helping out newer youth players!

Referees are critical to soccer - the game can't be played without them. The referee is the official in charge of the game - an independent arbiter and manager of the game. His/her authority extends to everyone at the field, including players, substitutes, team officials, spectators, and even assistant referees. 

The referee's No. 1 one concern is to keep the game as safe as possible for the players. While there is risk in all sports, the referee is responsible for minimizing such risks from field conditions, equipment, spectators, and the players. The referee is responsible for enforcing the Laws of the Game in such a way as to keep the game safe, fair and fun for everyone: the players, the coaches, the spectators and themselves. He interferes with the game as little as possible, avoiding making calls for doubtful and trifling offenses. Referees only make calls for offenses they are sure occurred. 

We want our kids to continue to play, and they keep playing as long as it is fun. Referees learn that fun soccer varies from age group to age group of players. If you are ready to become a referee, follow the Training Road Map at the top of this page, and/or contact:
~ Tim Wrubel, Regional Referee Administrator ([email protected])
~ Noah Slater, Area 11Q Referee Administrator ([email protected])

Training Road Map

Each volunteer must take the following step to become certified. (New AND Returning)
1) Register as a volunteer at:

Each New (but NOT if Returning) volunteer must ALSO take the following steps...
2) Begin online training at:
     (a) Login using your Blue Sombrero user name and password
     (b) Click the "My Courses" tab on the left side of top bar
     (c) There are three mandatory courses to complete, totaling about 20-45 minutes each.
          (i) AYSO's Safe Haven
          (ii) CDC: Concussion Course
          (iii) Laws of the Game
     (d) Click on the "eCommerce" tab and then click on the "Referee Training" button. Click onn the "Buy Now" button to purchase the Regional Referee Training. There is a cost for the training, which we will reimburse afterwards, or you can email [email protected] for training vouchers. The course takes two-three hours to complete.

IMPORTANT: Please do NOT proceed to Step 3 if you have not completed the online portions in Step 2.
3) There is an in-person companion course that is done separately AFTER you’ve done all Step #2’s courses.
     (a) Go to
     (b) Search "Regional Referee Online Companion Course" by clicking the "Sessions" button
     (c) Sign up to reserve your spot!

4) After completing the online and in-person training, email our Regional Referee Admin (RRA) directly @ [email protected] for:
     (a) New referee kit. Please note what size shirt/shorts you'd prefer.
     (b) Matchtrak account, so you can to sign-in and reserve games online

If this sounds confusing, rest assured that we're here to help. Reach out to a coach or the RRA for help!!

F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: In which age divisions are players allowed to "head" the ball/control the ball using their head?

For age divisions 13U and older, players may head the ball. This age-based play restriction is meant to limit exposure to head injuries among the younger ages.
For 9U-12U, when a player heads the ball, an indirect kick is awarded to the opposing team.
For 7U-8U, indirect kicks are not utilized. Therefore, when a player heads the ball, a direct kick is awarded to the opposing team.
For younger ages, restart with a dropped ball after reminding the player to not try controlling the ball with their head.

Q: What are the Fall 2018 guidelines for the (9U-12U) age divisions?

1) For 9U to 10U age divisions, the goalkeeper shall not punt (or drop-kick) the ball
2) An indirect kick will be awarded to the opposing team at the spot of the offense if a goalkeeper for 9U to 10U deliberately punts (or drop-kicks) the ball during a match.
3) An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team’s goal area must be taken on the goal area line at the point nearest to where the goalkeeper punted (or drop-kicked) the ball.

BUILD-OUT LINE (9U & 10U) (**S11** = per Section 11's guidance as of Spring 2018)
1) The build-out line shall be placed across the field equidistant between the top of the penalty area and the halfway line.
2) The build-out line shall be used as the line to determine offside. Players cannot be penalized for an offside offense between the halfway line and the build-out line.
3) The opposing team must move behind the build-out line for a goal kick or when the goalkeeper has possession. At any time, the goalkeeper may pass, throw or roll the ball to a teammate who is behind the build-out line.
4) The goalkeeper or the player taking the goal kick does not have to wait for the opposing players to move behind the build-out line. The play from the goalkeeper or from the goal kick **S11** must may be played to a teammate behind the build-out line. After the ball is put into play, the opposing team can then cross the build-out line and play may resume as normal. The first touch is from the goal kick or pass from the goalkeeper. **S11** The ball is not considered to be in play until it leaves the possession team's penalty area.
(4a) **S11** Distributing the ball (via goal kick OR goalkeeper) beyond the build-out line is not an infraction. Remember, however, that goalkeeper punts and drop-kicks will still result in an indirect free kick to the opposing team.
(4b) **S11** If the goalkeeper releases the ball into play before an opposing team member has moved beyond the build-out line, that player may play the ball if it comes directly to them, provided they were actually retreating to the build-out line.

(Editor:) Referees should note the similarity of such an outcome to this portion of Law 13 - Free Kicks: "if a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent who is near the ball deliberately prevents him taking the kick, the referee shall caution the player for delaying the restart of play." ... Although this is not a free kick scenario, the retreating team should nevertheless be in the act of retreating behind the build-out line. If they were not, referees may use their discretion to restart play in accordance with Law 5.

Q: I read/heard that 7U-8U age divisions don't have goalkeepers . Is that correct?

Current USSF and AYSO guidelines do not include goalkeepers in the 7U/8U divisions. However, the Board for Region 97 voted to continue using goalkeepers for 8U age division. We have done this for a few reasons:
1) 8U age divisions will only play games within our Region, and therefore this style of play will not differ or conflict with teams from other Regions. (for example, if a Region 97 team plays against an Irvine 8U team)
2) We want to minimize the "re-teaching" of different rules for different age divisions wherever possible, so as not to confuse players, referees and coaches alike.
3) Participating teams and families have grown accustomed to the transition to using goalkeepers at this age.

One last thing I would add here is that AYSO National also suggests KICK-INs, instead of throw-ins, to restart play when the ball passes over a touch line (aka sideline.) The Region 97 Board also voted to continue restarting play with throw-ins for the 8U age divisions, as has been done in the past.

Q: Could you explain how Referee Points work?

Each team earns Referee Points when a referee volunteer covers a game for their associated team. Therefore, each team should recruit two two or more referees that can handle a game for their own age division. Our Region requires referee participation for games to work out optimally for everyone involved. Additionally, data has proven that referee participation increases whenever teams need to contribute a nominal amount of Referee Points in order to qualify for playoffs. As a result, this has become common practice for many surrounding Regions. Understanding the big picture can be more complicated. For more details, read on...

7U & younger: Coaches on the field can and should act in the interest of the players' safety first and foremost. No official score is kept, and there are no playoffs for these age divisions.
8U: During the regular season, no official score is kept. Therefore, a single referee (of any skill level) or coach can and should act in the interest of the players' safety first and foremost. If there is sufficient referee participation at this level, we can continue Region 97's long-standing tradition of scheduling a randomly-seeded playoff. Due to the fact that emotions can run high during playoffs, team coaches should not be acting as referees in the postseason.
9U & older: During the regular season, official score is kept. This means Win-Loss-Draw records can affect a team's playoff seed ranking for Region playoffs. Teams with sufficient Referee Points can qualify for Champion Tier Regional playoffs, which can advance to Area Q playoffs and beyond. Additional Tiers and seeding vary each year, depending on team participation.

Q: Tell me more about Referee Points. How can my team qualify for season playoffs?

The number of Referee Points a team requires to qualify for postseason play is (3 x Scheduled Games / 2)
Example #1: the Purple Pilots have 10 regular season games in their schedule. (3 x 10 / 2) = 15
Example #2: the Green Machines have 12 regular season games in their schedule. (3 x 12 / 2) = 18

Please remember...
1) Referees should sign up in advance of their games via Matchtrak.
Important: If you do not have a Matchtrak login, please refer to the Training Road Map. Section 11 has advised all its participating Regions (that's us!) they reserve the right to cancel Extra Program matches on Saturday if a referee has not signed up by Thursday evening (roughly 36 hours' notice.)

2) Each Home team is responsible for providing referee coverage for the game that follows theirs at the same field.
3) For the final game of the day on a field, the Home team is responsible for providing referee coverage for the first game of the day at that field.
4) Home team earns 2 points when a Referee (read: at the center) with credential covers a game.
5) Home team earns 1 point when an Assistant Referee with credential covers a game.
6) Visiting team earns 1 point when an Assistant Referee with credential covers a game.
7) Any team can earn a maximum of 3 points each week.

Last, but not least...
8) Don't panic! We love our volunteers and trades can be arranged! In addition to asking the parents or guardians of the players on your team, I encourage you to reach out to older players, siblings, and cousins, as well as other coaches and referees, to build your own support network you can call upon for years to come. Here are some examples of flexible situations:
~ a Referee who prefers to cover the game before his player's Home games emailed the other coaches involved to work the logistics out each week. That definitely helps!
~ a Referee who travels for business starting in late October was able to earn points by covering some Visiting games in September and early October instead. No problem!
~ an older-age division team had no parent Referee volunteers. Instead, some of those players earned their credentials and covered younger age division games for points there. Bravo! (Youth referees need only be 2 years older than the games in the age division they cover.)
~ a player parent had a former Referee neighbor they requested come out of retirement. We love that!

9) Contact your RRA (Regional Referee Admin) Tim Wrubel to tackle the issues you might be having in the first half of the season. Requesting help on the last week at the end of the season might be too late to qualify for playoffs!

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Newport AYSO Region 97

PO Box 1848 
Newport Beach, California 92659

Email Us: [email protected]
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