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American Youth Soccer Organization Providing world class youth soccer programs that enrich children's lives.

Redwood City AYSO


Frequently Asked Questions

I never played soccer and I don't know the rules.  How can I be a Referee?

Turns out this is true for many, if not most, of our referee volunteers.  The AYSO Referee program has training and mentoring for new referees that provides for development of referee skills and capability, with a progression that follows the development of the players.  The types of refereeing scenarios encountered at in the 8U (8 and under) division are less complex and the game speed slower than upper division play.  We will teach you what you need to know and give you the feedback you need.

How much training is involved?   

Every AYSO volunteer has to complete several volunteer certification courses that are offered online:
- AYSO Safe Haven
- AYSO Concussion Awareness
- AYSO Sudden Cardiac Arrest
- SafeSport

From start to finish, these should take 2 to 4 hours to complete.

8U Official training is a single class about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

10U Regional Referee combines an online class and an in-person review session followed by a field clinic.

More information on referee training can be seen here.   The referee training calendar for the upcoming season can be seen here

The Training Site has both a "Regional Referee" class series and an "Assistant Referee" class series. If I just want to be an Assistant referee, should I take this class?

No - in Redwood City, our policy is to have all referee candidates for 10U or higher divisions complete the full Regional Referee training.  The curriculum is not that much different, and even the exposure to what the Referee is required to do is helpful for someone to be an effective Assistant Referee.  We do not offer the Assistant Referee in-person class, and we strongly urge candidates to only take the Online Regional Referee training


Which Regional Referee Training class should I take?

See above answer - " NEW Regional Referee - Online + In-Person Companion Course (2 Part Bundle)"

The Regional Referee - Online + In Person Companion Course bundle involves self paced, online training which should take 3 to 4 hours, followed by an in-person on-field clinic that runs about 3 to 4 hours.   Redwood City usually offers 2 in person field clinics per season, and these are also available in nearby cities if the RWC offerings are not convenient.

See the Referee Calendar for dates

How do I complete my certifications, background check and/or SafeSport?

Log in to  If you are not on your Account page, and see a page such as below, click on MY ACCOUNT:

Your Account page will look like below.  From this page, click on the "Volunteer" link circled in red (on the left hand side)

The Volunteer page will then show what steps are completed versus what steps are still incomplete.  The volunteer below has not completed anything.

To complete the Background check ("Risk Status"), check the checkbox next to Risk Status and click Renew & Update.  This should take you to a third party website ("Sterling") which will walk you through the information capture and permissions to get the background check performed (not required for Youth Referees)

To complete Concussion Awareness, Sudden Cardiac Arrest and AYSO Safe Haven, click on the AYSOU button.  Once logged in you can see these courses by clicking Training LIbrary and then selecting "Safe Haven Courses".  Then you can select the three courses and Enroll.

To complete SafeSport, (Not required for youth referees) check the checkbox next to SafeSport and then click on Renew & Update.  A popup screen will appear giving you a link to use to get to the third party SafeSport training site.  Follow the link and enroll with SafeSport.

How much time does it take every week?

The 8U games involve 2 20 minute halves with a short halftime.  We ask that you show up before game time to check in the players.  End to end should be less than an hour.

10U games have 2 25 minute halves plus a short halftime.  We start 10U games at the top of each hour.   12U and 14U games are 30 minute and 35 minute halves, respectively.  For each of these divisions, we ask that you come 30 minutes before game time for check-ins and coin toss, along with a Referee team pre-game discussion.  

You are not required to referee every week.  If you have the time to spare and are enjoying it, you are free to take more than one assignment per week, as long as your legs and fatigue level permit.  

Can I watch my kid's game?

We do allow for parent referees to participate in their kids' games.  During the regular season and for 10U and above, we prefer that you limit these assignments to Assistant Referee.  However when we have the end of season tournament, we do not allow parents to take assignments for their kids' games.

How does refereeing work?

You sign up and get certified/trained.  We then publish a game assignment sheet that lists all the games by game time and field.   The referees then grab the assignments that they want to take.   Our main season is in the Fall, starting around or after Labor Day (can vary by age division) through mid November.  8U through 14U games are on Saturdays.  16U and 19U games may be held on other days of the week.

For 8U division games, there is a single 8U official per game. 

For 10U and above, there is a 3 person referee team comprising one Referee (the Center Referee) and two Assistant Referees.

The Referee or referee team manage the starting and stopping of play, determine who gets to do a throw in, whether a goal kick or corner kick should happen, and so on.  In 8U we do not enforce the Offside rule, but starting in 10U we use the full Laws of the Game, including Offside, which is why we utilize a 3 person team.  The Assistant Referees help in monitoring the on or offside position of players and help the Referee determine if there is an offside violation.

The referee or referee team also enforce the laws of the game and thus whistle for fouls and infractions as required to keep play Safe, Fair and Fun.  This does not mean that _every_ possible offense gets a whistle.  The Referee has the final word as to whether play requires a whistle, or whether some other tool should be applied such as vocalizing "hey keep those arms down" or "watch the late tackle".   

Finally the referee (8U) or referee team (10U+) mark the official scorecards for the game

Do Referees get paid?

No - AYSO referees in the programs that we offer here in Redwood City are not paid.   An AYSO referee who upgrades to the Intermediate level can cross certify with USSF (United States Soccer Federation).  Once registered with USSF, the referee may take USSF assignments which are generally paid.

How many games do I have to Referee?

This will largely be up to you based on the time you want to commit and how much your body can take.  As the age divisions go up, the fields get bigger and the halves get longer.

For 10U we require that each team provide a referee who covers at least 3 game assignments in the first 5 weeks, and then there are bonuses to the team for additional games covered.  These bonuses translate into points for the team for the Post season Tournament.  For more info see

It is not unusual for referees to take one assignment per week, though you can skip weeks if you need to.  You may also take more assignments.  We have to have at least a Referee and one Assistant Referee to properly cover a game.  If we don't have referees assigned to a game, that game cannot be played per AYSO guidelines.

Another consideration is that once you have completed your training, it is best that you get out there and practice doing the job so that the learning becomes more concrete.  There is no substitute for on-field experience, whether at the Assistant Referee or Referee position.

What is the difference between Referee and Assistant Referee?

We use a 3 person referee team for 10U and older divisions.  The Referee is the official who is on the field and carries the whistle.  The 2 Assistant Referees take one sideline each from one goal line to the halfway line, on alternate halves of the field.  The Assistant Referees carry a flag.

The referee is responsible for the start and stoppage of play, indicating restarts, calling fouls and infractions.   The referee uses the whistle and hand signals to direct the play of the game.  The referee also is the official timekeeper and keeps the official record of the game (scoring and misconduct).  In AYSO we also keep track of substitutions using a game card for each team.  Usually one of the Assistant Referees do this job, but some Referees prefer to do it.

The Assistant Referees are responsible for the sideline (ball in and out), goal line (ball in and out), whether the ball fully enters the goal.  The Assistant Referee also positions him or herself along the "offside line" to be able to indicate to the Referee when an Offside violation has occurred.  Lastly the Assistant Referee may help the Referee in calling fouls.   The Assistant Referee carries a flag which is used to communicate with the Referee, Players, Coaches and spectators.  

The referee team communicates with eye contact, hand signals and flag signals.  In some cases they may where radio headsets.

Normally new referees are more comfortable performing the Assistant Referee role, and then move into the center as Referee after they have gotten comfortable and learned by watching referees that they work with.  But we also have had new referees take a Referee assignment on Week 1.

What are the age requirements to be an AYSO Referee?

Per the AYSO National Rules and Regulations, the age requirements by division and referee badge level are as follows:
8U Official - 10 years or older

for 10U and higher the age requirements are based on badge level, with Regional Referee being the entry level badge
Regional Referee - 12 years or older
Intermediate Referee - 14 years or older
Advanced Referee - 16 years or older
National Referee - 18 years or older

Can my son or daughter become a Referee?

Absolutely! One of the great aspects of the AYSO Referee program is that it allows and encourages youth to become trained referees.  It is a great way to learn responsibility and judgement.  It also helps build a deeper understanding of the game, what a volunteer organization looks like and how it runs.   

Will I have to travel to referee games?

All of our 8U games are held at Kennedy Middle School.  No travel is required other than to this field.

For 10U divisions and older, we are very fortunate here in Redwood City that we have a facility such as Red Morton that has all of the fields that we need.  Thus during the regular season as well as Winter and Spring seasons.  At 12U and higher, there are some games that are played elsewhere in surrounding cities (San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood Shores, etc), and there may be an opportunity to take a referee assignment at the away game.  This happens more in Winter and Spring league games than it does in the Fall.  

At the end of the season, the winners of each division have the opportunity to compete at the Area tournament, which is held in Foster City.  Teams that win their division at the Area tournament are invited to compete in the Section Tournament.  In 2022, the Section Tournament will be held in Portland, OR, in December.   Redwood City will be invited to nominate Referees to officiate at the Section Tournament, but participation is not mandatory.

Do we cancel games when the weather is bad?

Soccer in the rain is one of the most fun activities there is!  For 8U games, since the Kennedy field is grass, the school district may close the field, and the procedures for notifying this are communicated closer to the season.
For 10U and higher division games, these are held at Red Morton which is an artificial turf facility, which supports play in rainy conditions.

We will cancel games in case of lightning and for poor air quality.  Ultimately it is up to the Referee to decide if conditions are such that the game cannot continue safely.  We usually have Redwood City AYSO Board members at Red Morton on game days to help make such assessments.

Will I get yelled at by Parents or by Coaches?

A: It is an unfortunate reality that as much as we try to manage the sidelines and the technical areas, there are heated moments where adults aren't always their best selves.  It is a reason why we lose trained referees.  The Referee team is empowered to manage unruly parent spectators and coaches, and the Redwood City AYSO Board and referee mentors are usually around the fields to help if problems arise.  Handling situations like these is part of the referee training.  I can only tell you from my experience that these situations are rare, and my enjoyment of the job and of working with fellow volunteer parents makes up for the occasional incident.   It is encoded in the Laws of the Game that the Referee has the final say over the calls and non-calls that happen, whether warranted or not.  The important thing is that we are there and providing a safe, fair and fun experience for the players

How is AYSO Organized

AYSO is organized into Sections, which are multi-state entities.    Sections are organized into Areas, which comprise multiple cities.  Areas are then divided into Regions, which are generally a single city or a group of adjacent cities.   There is no requirement to sign up with the region that includes your city.  You may register with any AYSO region.

Redwood City is Region 1 within Area 2N, which is part of Section 2.   Section 2 covers Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Northern and Western Nevada, Northern and Central California (to Monterey County)

Area 2n comprises the following regions
Redwood City (Region 1)
Portola Valley (Region 25)
San Mateo (Region 36)
Foster City (Region 62)
Burlingame (Region 63)
San Carlos (Region 107)
Belmont (Region 108)
Menlo Park - Atherton (Region 109)
Hillsborough (Region 110)
Half Moon Bay (region 1099)

The AYSO area to the immediate south of us is Area 2J

The AYSO area to the immediate north of us is Area 2B

Also useful:

If I am a USSF Referee, can I referee with AYSO?

Yes you can take your USSF training and cross register with AYSO.  If you are a USSF referee, the cross certification form to get your AYSO badge is here.  As the form says, you must get it signed by the USSF state referee administrator.  The state administrator for our state association, "California North", is

Said Ravanfar, State Referee Administrator
[email protected]
32 Hamilton Drive, Suite H
Novato, CA 94949

After you get the USSF signature, you must do the following:
1.  Complete and submit an AYSO volunteer registration
2.  Take the online AYSO Safe Haven courses (please wait 24 hours after registering before trying to use the AYSOU link)
3.  Get the signature of the Redwood City Regional Commissioner ([email protected]) and send the form to the AYSO National Office as indicated on the form.  The AYSO National Office will send you an AYSO badge.
4.  Once you have your AYSO badge, you are welcome to sign up for game assignments.

Can I use my AYSO training and become a USSF Referee?

AYSO referees who are at the Intermediate badge level may cross register with USSF as a Grassroots Referee.   The form to fill out can be accessed here.  For Intermediate and Advanced Referees, this will require the signature of the Area Referee Administrator ([email protected]).  For National referees, this will require the signature of the Section Referee Administrator ([email protected]).  You will need your AYSO number, and USSF charges a fee for cross registering.  Once a USSF referee, there are annual certification requirements and registration fees due annually at renewal time.  However, as a USSF referee you are eligible to be paid for referee assignments.

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Redwood City AYSO

1017 El Camino Real, Unit #313
Redwood City, California 94063

Email Us: [email protected]
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