This will be a short post and serve as a quick reminder of the obligation we have to help young referees.
This weekend, I worked 2 games (U-11 and U-12) with a couple of high school age referees. I've worked with them both before. One is 18 and relatively new. The other is 15, but has been around longer and seems a more savvy referee.
When we arrived at the field, I expressed my preference for them to do the games today. The 18 year old had never done a large side game, so it was a great opportunity for her. I worked with her enough to know she was ready. The 15 year could easily handle the U-12 game. I'm happy to say they both did really well. The older referee seemed a little uncomfortable at first, but she did a fine job. I offered a few words of advice on positioning at the half. She adjusted and it seemed to help with her seeing a little more contact on the field. Her biggest problem seems to be self confidence. It improved over the course of the game.
The younger referee did a great job on the U-12 game. In fact, he made a terrific non-call. From a corner kick, the defending team clearly handled a ball close to the goal line, and he saw it. However, the ball headed toward goal so the referee "swallowed the whistle" just long enough for the ball to cross the goal line! I was happy for him and he seemed proud of his decision.
I believe they both left that field as better referees. As more experienced referees, I think it is important to try to help younger referees. I often wonder why there isn't an official role for older referees to work with younger referees.