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Who Runs the Game? Refs!


“It is a great way to gain appreciation for the game. You can really learn the rules and understand the gameplay better… Kids who ref can both understand and sympathize with referees when they play.” Nat Blaz, was the previous Youth Referee Coordinator at Milwaukee Kickers Milwaukee East Region. The program is currently headed by, Pete Coffaro, and helps kids who are interested in refereeing gain hands on experience through refereeing U7/8 home games. Milwaukee East’s Regional Director, Jock Mutschler states, “The kids are organized, and receive mentoring and training opportunities…The program contributes to a sense of community as now players, parents and refs are all from the neighborhood.”


The youth referee program allows young referees to be paid to ref home games. Additionally, Milwaukee East funds future referee training if young refs decided to progress. “I would always enjoy working with the kids whom it was their first-time refereeing. They would study up on the rules and advice I gave them ahead of the match, would ask me questions before it started, and then seamlessly fold into being a solid ref!” Stated Nat Blaz. Refereeing teaches individuals many life skills like communication, organization and leadership, and this program has helped many young kids get involved in refereeing. Our soccer communities needs more referees, and this is an awesome solution to help aid the referee shortage that many areas are currently facing, while also pouring into the youth in our community.


This program has helped create a safe, learning environment for young referees to learn about refereeing and grow in their confidence, and it is truly an amazing opportunity. The young referee program is for players who are 12 (or nearly 12) years of age, they should have an interest in refereeing and the ability to get to or notify others if they cannot make it to a game. If anyone is interested in the in the program or wants additional information, please contact Pete Coffaro at