During a five-hour referee course at AYSO Region 104’s training facility, Patrick Wilshusen, chief referee, said the soccer organization is in dire need of referees, and it’s not just Albuquerque that’s facing a shortage.
“Everywhere in the nation is short of referees,” Wilshusen said. “I was talking to multiple regions that only had two adult referees — everything else was youth — for regions of 500 players. I was like, ‘Whoa!’ At the club level — they’re mostly youth — when COVID hit, they lost a lot of the older adult referees because they’re trying to stay healthy and safe. Now they might be coming back, but everybody I talked to were hurting on referees. And so, to answer your question — 104, yes, we’re hurting on referees.”
Region 104 serves players in Albuquerque east of the Rio Grande, and region 1447 serves players west of the Rio Grande. According to the FAQ page on AYSO 104’s website, there are around 630,000 players and more than 250,000 volunteer coaches, referees and administrators in AYSO, but because of COVID-19, competition from different organizations and other factors, those numbers may be dwindling.
AYSO is not the only soccer organization short on referees in New Mexico. On the Rio Rapids Soccer Club website, it states, “We are in the midst of a historic referee shortage here in New Mexico. Our referee pools have dwindled to an all-time low. Our current referee shortage means that your upcoming games may not have full coverage. We need your help to have a successful soccer season for our kids.”
The Rio Rapids are a club team separate from AYSO whose practice fields include Arroyo Del Oso Park, Aztec Park and Balloon Fiesta Park. To referee for a club team, one must be certified through the United States Soccer Federation, whereas AYSO Region 104 requires in-house training through three different courses provided by Wilshusen. After taking Wilshusen’s third course, referees can get cross-certification with USSF, which can pay between $20 to $40 per hour. AYSO referees are all volunteers and do not get paid for their time on the field.
To learn more about how to become a referee for AYSO Region 104, contact Wilshusen at Chief.Referee@ayso104.org. To learn more about how to become a certified referee through USSF, visit https://learning.ussoccer.com/referee.