Refereeing Juniors @ Wests

Wests Junior teams rely on parent volunteers to referee games.

For the younger grades, refereeing is relatively easy (and fun) and just requires a basic knowledge of the game and a willingness to give it a go. If you are brand new to refereeing, it is also normally possible to coordinate with the team coach to pair you with an experienced referee while you build your confidence.

We encourage every junior team in Wests to have a pool of at least two referees that are able to volunteer on game day. For older junior grades, the home team is required to supply a referee that is not the team coach.

Contact your team coach, grade convenor or the club administrator if you are able to help.

Couple of myths busted if you are wondering whether this is something that you could do:



I haven’t refereed junior football. I’m not sure that I’d be confident on the field

Refereeing junior football is fun and rewarding.

Up until U11, the primary role of the referee is to help keep the game moving and to keep the kids safe. Rules such as off-side are not enforced by the referee until U11, and there is an strong element of encouraging the footballers to try their hardest, learn the game and -above all – have fun.

From U11 and above, the footballers themselves become a little more competitive and the referee should have a reasonable knowledge of the formal rules of football. This knowledge is built through attending the Capital Football courses, reviewing and applying the Laws of the Game and through getting on the field and getting experience in refereeing.

How do I better learn the rules so I know what I’m doing with refereeing?

There is plenty of support for new referees, including:

  1. Formal Capital Football courses
  2. Shadowing experienced referees
  3. Assistant refereeing opportunities

I’m nervous about calling off-side. How do I know that I’ve got the call right?

A player is in an offside position if they are nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent (at the point the ball is passed to them).

In plain English, if:

  • An attacking player is in the opponents half of the field, AND
  • In front of the ball and all of the defending teams defenders, AND
  • Is in a position to participate in the goal scoring attempt, 
  • at the time that the ball is kicked

…then they are offside. The only exceptions to this offsite rule are for a goal kick, a throw in or a corner.

It helps to imagine a line drawn across the field at the last defender. Any opposition player beyond that line when they are passed the ball is offside.

A good explanation of the offside rule is available here – Offside in Soccer (Football) Rule in Under 2 Minutes

If you are nervous about being able to call offside, then a good idea is to recruit a volunteer lines person from the parents of each team to put in their own defending half.

What if I make an error with a call?

Making an incorrect call is part of refereeing a fast moving and dynamic game.

If you make an error and know straight away that you need to change the call, blow your whistle again and correct the error.

If play has started again and the error has significantly advantaged the opposing team, blow your whistle and do a dropped ball at the point on the field that the error was made for the last player to touch the ball on the team that was disadvantaged by the error.

Mistakes happen – back yourself with your calls unless you know that you have made an error.

How do I deal with bad behaviour on or off the field?

Fortunately, the behaviour by the players on the field is almost always pretty good. The players are just there to play and enjoy the game.
Very occasionally it is possible to get some lip from an overzealous parent that questions a referee call. For one-off grumblings, it is best to ignore the commentary from the side-lines. For repeated bad behaviour from the parents of a team, the best way to deal with the issues is:

  1. Not engage in an argument with the offending parent
  2. Indicate to the parent that the behaviour is not accepable
  3. Call both team coaches onto the field (during half time or stopping the game for continued disruptive parent behaviour)
  4. Ask the coach to remind parents that this is children’s football and to moderate poor behaviour

This type of behaviour is very rare and is often a result of different teams playing slightly different interpretations of junior rules. This can be helped by setting out your expectations as a referee to the teams and coaches before the game starts, e.g. reminding players about the retreating line (if applicable) or allowing foul throw-ins to be re-taken once only and given to the opposition for a foul on the second attempt.

Refereeing Resources


U10-U12 Premier (previously travel league) referees are required by Capital Football to gain the Introduction to Refereeing qualification. This course is also recommended for mixed or social grades to help referees become more confident on the field.

U13-U15 Premier referees are required by Capital Football to gain the Level 1 Refereeing qualification. This is also a recommended qualification for any referee of this age group to help build referees confidence and competence.

Referee course pathways – Referee Training

Rules of the Game

  1. Excellent Capital Football summary of the key rules for each grade – Junior Playing rules
  2. Official IFAB rules – Capital Football Federation – Laws of the Game
  3. Capital Football regulations (Youth and Junior regulations – Appendix Two and Three) – Playing Regulation
  4. Football NZ Referee resources – NZ Football – Referees
  5. NZ Football Green Shirt Campaign – Green Shirt campaign announced to encourage more people to become referees (