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LETTER: Another soccer referee calling it quits

Well, I’ve heard it again, and what I’ve heard has made me sad. Another soccer referee has decided to stop refereeing because of the behavior exhibited by some coaches.

We lose many young first and second year officials, 14 to 16-year-olds, because they are intimidated by coaches or parents. You can hardly blame them; being yelled at by an adult for doing their job is not something they expected nor is it much fun. 

What I heard today though is not about a young official turning in their whistle. It’s about an experienced referee who has had enough of the inexcusable, unprofessional, insensitive, rude, bullying behavior of some coaches. 

Whether it is an entry-level referee or one who has years of experience, I feel a deep sadness when one decides to stop refereeing for these reasons. Because of this type of behaviour, some communities may find it difficult to find referees.  

It is expected that coaches follow a code of behavior. In fact, the National Coaching Certification Program code of ethics is very clear in the standards of behavior for coaches in their interaction with officials: respect the principles, rules, and policies in force and honour the sport by respecting the officials and accepting their decisions without questioning their integrity.

Some very important words there: ‘respect’ and ‘honour the sport’.  What is clear to me is some soccer coaches either have not taken any coaching certification or have chosen to ignore these important standards.

To be fair, most coaches are reasonable and friendly. If an occasional comment slips out they are quick to calm down with a reminder from the referee. One of the troubling aspects of a coach’s bad behaviour though, is the negative example and tone this sets for the players.

A coach who is constantly complaining imprints this on the players and they mimic the coach on the field. This is not good for the game.

People who decide to be coaches need to be mentors who show young people how to work hard, have fun, realize their potential and be good representatives for their community.  A part of this mentorship involves instilling respect for officials and honouring the sport—for the good of the game.

Greg Turner, Smith’s Cove (Former soccer coach, and for now, referee)

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