Number of soccer referees in Alabama is down 50% since last year — save the game, become a ref

Soccer
The number of soccer referees is down 50% statewide in Alabama. (Alabama Soccer Referee Facebook page)

Soccer in Alabama is in trouble. Yes, kids are playing the game more than ever. Local soccer clubs are adding teams and growing. New soccer fields are popping up across the state. 

What’s the problem? The number of certified soccer referees has taken a nosedive. And like every other sport, without refs, you can’t play the game. 

50% Decline

Pete Dakis, has ref’d for 20+ years and is a president of a soccer referee association in Birmingham. 

“Currently, we have lost over 50% of our referees from last year,” he told The Bama Buzz.  “We are hurting. The number of clubs and players keep growing, while the referee numbers are shrinking.”

He didn’t want to say the word, but I will — it is a crisis. 

Rewarding – Helping kids

Soccer
Pete Dakis is on the far right. (Pete Dakis)

There are a lot of factors why the numbers have dropped so dramatically. The pandemic didn’t help. The job can be thankless sometimes. But, if you love the game, there is no better job, according to Dakis. 

“To me it is rewarding because you are out there helping the kids. It’s not about the money, even though it’s good.”

For adults, as a ref, you join a special community that loves the game and wants to see it grow. There is nothing like ref’ing kids, watching them develop from playing “bunch ball” to learning how to pass the ball, become good teammates and lifelong friends. 

A Great First Job for Young People

Since young people can become referees at 14 years old, it is the perfect starter job.  

“I’m a certified math teacher. Do the math. Fast food chains or whatever you do in retail can average about $15 an hour if you are lucky. However, you can go ref a youth game — U12 game, and you can make up to $30 in one hour. When it comes to ref’ing for young people out there, you make your own schedule. You make as much money as you want. And there is no pressure other than the game that you love.”

Want to Become a Ref? The Process

Soccer
(Alabama Soccer Referee Facebook page)

Are you interested in becoming a referee? The game of soccer needs you.

The Alabama Soccer Referee Program has a webpage called “Become a Referee.”

Everything is online. There are assignments, a background check (for refs 18+) and a certification ZOOM Meeting  — email Pete Dakis at petedakis70@gmail.com if you need help. 

Here are the next two scheduled ZOOM classes:

February 26, 2022

9:00 am – 10:30 am

Virtual, Zoom Meeting

Cost: $100

Registration & Info

March 12, 2022

9:00 am – 10:30 am

Virtual, Zoom Meeting

Cost: $100

Registration & Info

Everyone is required to take this class and please have your assignments completed before the ZOOM Meeting..

If you are unsure about any of the steps, email Pete Dakis at petedakis70@gmail.com .  He will help you or connect you with someone who can guide you through the process.

About 250-300 Refs Needed Statewide

Refs are needed from Huntsville to Mobile and everywhere in between. Once you are certified in the state program, you can ref anywhere in the US. As of mid-January, the state was down 250-300 refs.

Start the process today — become a ref.

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Pat Byington
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