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How to become a refereePrintable

Congratulations! So, you want to become a referee. That is great. As a referee you:

  • Are well paid.
  • Are part of the third team on the field with friends and colleagues.
  • Have an up close and personal interaction with the players and the game.

As a USSF Referee, you will be part of the California North Referee Association. More information about becoming a referee is available on the CNRA Website->

To get started as a referee you need:

  • A license
  • A kit
  • Mentored matches


Most matches assigned via the Peninsula Soccer Referee Association require a United States Soccer Federation Referee License. You can get a Grade 8 or a Grade 9 license.
Grade 9 is a lower level license, appropriate only for younger youth recreational matches.
Grade 8 is the typical first license, appropriate for all youth matches. 90% of all USSF referees have a Grade 8 license.

To get a license you need to take a class, called an "Entry Level Clinic". Your class choices are:

  • Grade 9 ELC
  • Grade 8 ELC Online/Classroom/Field (8-10 hours classroom, 4 hours field)
  • Grade 8 ELC Classroom (18 hours classroom)
Sign up and find upcoming Entry Level Clinics at>


To start you need:

  • Yellow short sleeve referee shirt
  • 100% black referee shorts with pockets
  • Black socks with 2 white stripes
  • Watch with a stop watch function (no you cannot use your smart phone)
  • A pocket notebook and pencil
  • Velcro backing for your badge
  • Whistle
  • Flipping coin (a quarter works fine)
As you more experienced you will need:
  • A bag to carry your kit
  • Flags
  • Red/Yellow Cards
  • Second whistle
  • Black or Red shirt
  • Black shoes


You need on-the-field experience and advice. Some leagues (San Francisco Youth Soccer for example) will assign a Mentor to help during your first matches.

More experienced referees love to help rookies. At your matches, ask for pointers. Tell your referee team about your experience level.

Work recreational level matches (AYSO in San Mateo County) before you work competitive level matches.

Edited to include 2018 uniform requirements 11/15/17