Zillions of kids play soccer. Every weekend there are matches on just about every square foot of green grass.
All these games are great for kids, but it presents a big problem for the folks who run the soccer leagues. There just aren't enough adult soccer referees to cover all the games. The solution . . . kid referees! Montgomery Soccer Inc. and the District's Stoddert Soccer League each have more than 100 junior referees working their games. (For more information on MSI: www.msisoccer.org, then then click on volunteer/jobs; for Stoddert: www.stoddert.com).
To find out what it's like to be a kid referee, I spoke to Daniel Anderson, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Briggs Chaney Middle School in Silver Spring. Daniel has been a referee in the Calverton Recreational League for two years.
What age groups do you referee?
I mostly referee younger kids, but I have been the referee for older kids too.
What age group do you like the best?
The little kids are lots of fun. They are happy to be running around in the morning. Sometimes I'll remember that I started out just like them. It is way harder to referee the older kids. The field is much bigger and you have to pay more attention because the older kids know how to foul and play nasty.
Have you ever refereed a game in which your friends are playing?
Sometimes. I just tell them that for the game I'm not your friend, I'm the referee. When you are the referee you don't care who wins. The referee just wants the game to be safe, be fair and be fun.
What qualities does a kid need to be a good referee?
You have to be confident. It can be hard to tell coaches to back off, but you have to or some coaches will try to control the game. You also have to be able to hustle and really run up and down the field. Sometimes I run more as a referee than I do when I am a player.
Do you play soccer?
I have played for years and hope to play when I go to high school next year. Being a player helps you be a referee because you are used to the game.
Has being a referee helped you as a player?
A lot. When you are a referee you have to pay attention to all the players. This makes you think about the game more and how you play it. And if I referee a game or two in the morning, I am all warmed up for my game in the afternoon.
Has being a referee changed the way you look at referees?
I can relate to them more, even though most of the referees in my games are older. I can also see when they make a mistake. But that's okay, I know it can be hard to be a referee.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's Friday sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.