Iowa Soccer Association to Invest Over a Quarter Million Dollars
Referee Development Program to tackle referee shortfall, sportsmanship
DES MOINES, Iowa (May 1, 2023) – Iowa Soccer will invest over a quarter million dollars over the next two years through a new and innovative program, the Iowa Soccer Referee Development Program (RDP).
Between 2018 and 2022 the number of certified soccer referees in Iowa decreased by 46%. It is no longer guaranteed that youth or adult matches will have enough, or any, referees. The absence of officiating has an impact on the game experience for all involved – players, coaches, and supporters. No ref, no game.
Through specific programming that includes addressing participants’ behavior during games, and alongside a strategic alliance with the Iowa Referee Committee (IRC), the RDP has set goals to recruit, retain, train, and support referees, ultimately increasing the number of certified soccer referees in Iowa and improving the game experience for all involved.
Iowa Soccer members will have exclusive and free access to the RDP and the resources being provided that will train and urge “Respect 4 All”, the “4” being acknowledgment that coaches, players, referees, and supporters each have roles to play in improving the environment, which in turn improves the chances of referee retention and recruitment. Program applications will be available to member clubs in late spring. The launch of the program is slated for the 2023-2024 seasonal year.
“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” said Dan Cataldi, CEO of Iowa Soccer.
Rob Sorey, the State Referee Administrator for the IRC added, “as our players grow and continue to get better, the only way to continue this development is to develop all other factors in the equation. This includes our referees. We all have a role to play in the development of soccer and we have been losing referees at an alarming rate, especially post-covid.”