When certain topics come up in youth soccer, like no offside for U10, one common refrain is “we don’t have enough referees as it is. This will help with the shortage.” This builds from the belief that the abuse referees endure in matches (a real problem) is causing some to leave and few to take it up. But is it a widespread problem?

I can only speak for central North Carolina, but for us, we’re turning certified people away and can’t get our current referees enough matches. Our referee assignor notes that in talking with other referee assignors, they have deep ref pools as well. Even on busy tournament weekends, the number of referees being brought in from farther reaches (since most ref pools can’t handle a large local tournament) is low. Some of our referees will note that they offer themselves to the larger tournaments 1-2 hours away and rarely get offers or get offered 1-2 matches, which isn’t worth the drive time. By far the biggest complaint I heard as a leageu president from referees was lack of games, not unwieldy parents and coaches.

I’m sure more rural areas struggle in this regard. But is it a problem in larger suburban or metro areas? Do you struggle to maintain a viable referee pool? Has the economy caused more people to take up officiating to earn a little extra money? What’s happening in your neck of the woods?