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Sep, 2023

Introducing the NRDP Referee Training League

Since July 1, 2022, NRDP has registered 427 new referees and we have more referees licensed now than we have had at any time in the last seven years. However, these new referees have been working games for less than 14 months and two-thirds are 17 years old or younger.

Our focus now is to get these new referees trained in how to properly referee games and help them gain the confidence to continue refereeing at higher levels. In order to do this, we have found it is imperative that we insulate these new referees from abusive coaches, players, and parents – to create a safe, learning environment for them to get started, one where they can make mistakes, miss calls and be met with grace and encouragement, not nasty words or criticism from the sideline.  Too many youth referees get certified, jump on a game, get yelled at by coaches and parents without the chance to practice and learn, and then decide to quit.  This leads to incredible turnover and a constant ‘restart’ on the level of referees available because we can’t keep them in the program long enough to grow into higher level, confident referees. Only by creating a safe, learning based environment can we hope to retain these referees and continue to increase the number of licensed referees in Nebraska for years to come.

All of this is why NRDP and NSS are working together to create the NRDP Training League. A subset of games from NYSL Red Conference and CYSL chosen to be safe and positive environments for our new referees to begin their training with support from the coaches, spectators and clubs and with help from NRDP trainers and mentors.  

“I believe this will prove to be one of the most significant improvements in referee development in recent years,” said Jim McVay, NRDP State Referee Administrator.

Nebraska State Soccer Executive Director, Casey Mann, agreed, “Referee shortages affect everyone and its up to all of us to create a better environment to keep refs in the game longer. If we view this as a community effort – this can work.”

Games in the NRDP Training League are specifically chosen to be an appropriate level and age for new referees to get started, with teams NRDP and NSS feel will be supportive of the endeavor and manage their members appropriately to maintain an environment during games that is focused on development and learning. After referees are evaluated and confident enough to move on, they will be moved on to higher ages and divisions to continue developing their skills.


For more information about the Nebraska Referee Development Program please visit 



Nebraska State Soccer Association
PO Box 485 
Boystown, Nebraska 68010


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