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The coaching staff can significantly impact how players respect the “facilitators” referees. During practices, games, and other opportune times, the coaches can continually educate the team to not dissent on the referee’s decisions, to not encroach on free kicks, to play fairly, and to exhibit good sportsmanship. (example: offering a helping hand to an opponent on the ground after a collision, hard challenge, a foul, etc.)

Personal experience: In my final season (2004) as the Head Women’s Coach at Emory University (NCAA III) in Atlanta, we ended the season with zero yellow or red cards. We were the only men’s or women’s team in the nation, NCAA Divisions I, II, III, and the NAIA, to win their conference championship, advance to post-season national tournament competition, and end the year with 0 cards.

The team was honored by the NSCAA (now United Soccer Coaches) with the “Gold” (now Platinum) Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award.

As a coach, former player, certified athletic trainer, and referee, I am fortunate to see the beautiful game from multiple perspectives.

Often, during training sessions, as the coach, I referee the intra-squad scrimmages and purposely make incorrect decisions for one team or another. Obviously, this stimulates a negative reaction! This would provide a perfect opportunity to educate the players to be quiet, not complain to the referees, not encroach, and to get back on defense or start a counter-attack quickly.

Another suggestion regarding coach/ref “facilitator” respect: Coaches should be educated by refs annually regarding rule changes and informed about the hours required to become re-certified, the testing involved, the different certifications for HS, College, and USSF, the costs for each (annual fees, uniforms, etc.), the time involved, travel, post-game paperwork, etc.

On the other hand, referees should take a coaching course and respect the time and effort necessary to lead a successful team—college recruiting, etc. HS also teaching all day, etc.

Match Officials: Not having officials in the younger age group games, as suggested in the SOCCERevolution ‘Game Rules’ (see below), will free up more time to complete older age groups, reducing the number of officials required. The coaches will implement the rules as joint masters and only intervene when necessary. Sorry for the long-winded response. I’m just sharing some coaching tricks to help increase the respect of the “facilitators” referees.

Game Rules:

FUNdamental SOCCER – U6 Playing Rules – Fundamental Soccer

FUNdamental SOCCER – U8 Playing Rules – Fundamental Soccer

FUNdamental SOCCER U-10 Playing Rules – Fundamental Soccer

FUNdamental SOCCER – U-12 Playing Rules – Fundamental Soccer

Thank you for reading and for the opportunity to respond. Any questions and/or comments are always welcome!

Michael Sabatelle

USSF "A" Coaching License, Former Head Women's Coach Emory, Head Coach W-League Atlanta Classics, Head Coach Georgia Girls ODP, and Women’s Senior State Select Teams. Worked with Georgia Generals American Soccer League and US Youth Boys National Teams. Referee - NFHS, NISOA, USSF MEd Exercise Science, BS Health Education, Retired Certified (ATC), Licensed Athletic Trainer (LAT) and Certified Orthopaedical Technologist (OTC), Retired Health/PE Instructor Emory University