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The Learning Corner for Match Officials

By Staff, 03/14/19, 2:15PM EDT


This week is looking at what you need to do with match control and provides tips for the Grassroots and Soccer For Life age groups

Play. Inspire. Unite. 

Soccer is an emotional game, this is evident at all levels of competition, from players, to coaches to spectators.  Ontario Soccer have compiled insight from Match Officials to help assist all referees with control of the game, and this starts with the players.

This is to avoid the infamous line “ Ref, this game is out of control!”

This has been broken down into three categories: Age, Competition, and Gender.

Grassroots (U9-U12)

Grassroots age groups can be a very challenging age group to manage. Most players are still learning the game and developing their skills.

It is important for the Match Official to guide these young players in the right direction as they learn. The Match Official has a unique and important role in the development of players within this age group. This is because coaches are often only able to simulate in-game moments.

The Match Official must be a teacher, as well as an enforcer of the Laws of the Game.


  • Give instructions in a friendly and comforting voice
  • Each “mistake” by a player, is your chance to educate the player.
  • Give details on calls during stoppage of play
  • Offer words of encouragement to players, especially after they receive results they are unhappy with.
  • Be considerate of a player’s emotions. Young players may not fully understand the rules and or why a foul was/wasn't called, and may not be able to maturely express themselves.

Soccer For Life (U13-Senior)

Experienced players can be just as difficult to manage as youth players. Games get more intense as scores and standings start to matter, and everyone involved knows it.

Match Officials will need to establish their position early in these games. Let players, coaches, and spectators know that who’s in control, and that misbehaviour will not be tolerated.

This will set the precedent for a fair and clean game, and allows a Match Official to freely “let the players play” as the game gets closer to its conclusion.


  • Establish control early and often
  • Find a balance between personable, and strict. This will keep players from feeling they are being personally targeted.
  • Understand that disagreement will come from spectators as well as coaches and players.
  • Be active and cognisant of your positioning. This puts you in the best position to make calls, and shows effort and interest to all participants.