A new innovative program is being created by Iowa Soccer called the Iowa Soccer Referee Development Program. The goal of this program is to make sure Iowa soccer players, whether they are in a youth league or an adult league, have enough referee's for their matches. According to Iowa Soccer, between 2018-2022, the number of soccer refs in Iowa has decreased by 46%.

Unsplash - CFPhotosin Photography
Unsplash - CFPhotosin Photography
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There will be over a quarter of a million dollars invested into the Iowa Soccer Referee Development Program. Through different types of programming, the RDP wants to teach referees how to address the behavior of fans during matches and create a strategic alliance with the Iowa Referee Committee.

According to Iowa Soccer, they hope to recruit, retain, train, and support referees. With this program, they'd like to increase the number of certified soccer referees in Iowa.

Dan Cataldi is the CEO of Iowa Soccer and he said that finding referees is an urgent need in Iowa.

Our member youth clubs and adult leagues across the state see the referee shortage as one of the most urgent problems impacting the experience their players and families have. We are excited to get to work to offer innovative and creative solutions that will directly impact the referee experience, as well as the experiences of everyone involved in the game in our state.

Opinion

While I think this idea is very innovative and could/should spread to other sports...how sad is it that over $250,000 needs to be used in the hopes of recruiting and retaining refs? That money could go to scholarships for families who can't afford to play. It could be used towards maintaining or improving soccer fields around the state.

I don't blame a ref in any sport for wanting out of dealing with unruly parents and coaches. Why would anyone want to get screamed at for 2 hours, while trying to do their job?

Imagine going to work and having some parent/s scream at you for how terrible you're doing at your job, while their 10-year-old is just trying to have fun playing a game. If you want to yell at an official, go to a professional sports game. At least they get paid a ton of money to listen to you throw insults their way.

While I like this idea, I think it's about time parents and coaches start saying something to unruly fans so these officials don't have to do deal with this anymore. For years now we've seen a decline in officials in youth sports. Parents and coaches need to do a better job of remembering that if we don't have any officials, we don't have any games. Who is the real loser in this scenario? The kids who are just trying to play.

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