STAR Program

Special Team Assistant Referees

1. Purpose
2. Requirements
3. Training
4. Uniforms & Equipment
5. Game Day Procedures
6. Questions, Comments, & Suggestions


The NCSL STAR Program provides trained certified assistant referees to U12 and U13 matches when neutral assistant referees are not assigned.

STARs are expected to help others appreciate the difficult role of a referee in competitive youth soccer.

STARs are encouraged to officiate other games in NCSL, their house leagues, or elsewhere to gain experience and additional insight into the art of soccer officiating.  NCSL strongly encourages STARs to serve as assistant referees for other NCSL matches, especially those games that are immediately prior to or immediately following their match.  However, if selected by their team to serve as a STAR, their primary duty on game day is to the team, not officiating other matches.


  1. Each U12 and U13 team must identify at least two STARs prior to the beginning of each season.  STARs at U14 are optional and may be used, if needed.
  2. All teams must enter the details of their STARs through their team page on the NCSL. This information is not public but is required to help NCSL manage STAR compliance
  3. STAR names must be posted in the Team Contacts section of the NCSL web site prior to the commencement of each season (in cases where the certification class occurs after the start of the season they still need to be listed and their certification will be updated once they complete the class).
  4. The minimum STAR level training course is USSF Grade 9 but STARs can be certified referees in USSF Grades 8, or higher.  Individuals identified by their team prior to the deadline may be currently certified, or committed to becoming certified prior to the season in which they are entered. 
  5. STAR names must be entered in the Team Contacts section of the NCSL website prior to the first game of the season. 
  6. Team Managers are responsible for ensuring their STARs are listed in the Contacts Section of the NCSL website.
  7. Teams who have not complied with these requirements may be subject to a fine of $50 per game until they are compliant with the STAR requirements.  In addition, teams who have not been in compliance during the course of a season may be denied entry to the league in subsequent seasons.
  8. Minimum age for an NCSL STAR is 15 years old, regardless of certification grade. STARs must carry identification to prove age and identity if requested by the referee.
  9. Coaches listed on the roster of the participating teams may not serve as a STAR.
  10. STARs may not serve as both TSL and STAR for the same match.
  11. One individual may be listed as a STAR for no more than two (2) NCSL teams.
  12. STARs who are Grade 8 or senior referees must not turn back previously accepted assigned league matches in order to perform their STAR responsibilities.
  13. NCSL will pay the teams at the end of the season for the services provided by their STARs.  The STAR Payment card is available for download on the league website.  The card can be emailed, or sent by postal mail  to the STAR Administrator within ten (10) days of the last game of the season to request payment.  Verify Center Referee signed each line where STAR was used and make a copy of the STAR card before mailing it.  The rate of pay will be the same as that for assigned assistant referees (currently $30 per game, per STAR). No payment will be made for use of assistant referees who are not currently certified by USSF as they fail to meet NCSL requirements for STARs.  In addition, any team not in compliance with the STAR Program will not be paid for any STAR services.  
  14. Teams have discretion regarding whether to compensate their STARs as only one check will be cut and sent via mail to the current manager and address on file.  If the manager desires the check be made out to a specific name vice club or team name please indicate that on the card.


  1. The State Referee Programs of Maryland and DC/Virginia manage Training and Certification of assistant referees as required by USSF.  The cost to certify is $70 ($45 for USSF registration and $25 for the training class).
  2. Assistant referees are initially certified in classes ranging from 9 to 18 hours depending on the level of certification sought by the individual referee. USSF Referee Grades 9 and 8 are acceptable entry classes for STARs.
  3. All referees are required by USSF to recertify annually by attending a five-hour clinic and passing a USSF written exam (most exams have been moved to online, prior to attending the classroom portion - see specific class for details).  STAR specific recertification classes and clinics are generally conducted between the Fall and Spring seasons, but may also be available in August.  As STARs can be Grade 9 or higher any Grade 9 or 8 certification class can be used for STAR specific clinics to allow for more flexibility on scheduling.
  4. STARs may attend classes and clinics in Maryland, Virginia, or DC, regardless of where they live.


  1. STARs must be dressed with the USSF approved uniform consisting of black shorts (without stripes or logos), black socks with three white horizontal stripes, the current USSF approved gold jersey, and the current year USSF badge.  An alternate color jersey (black, red, or blue) may be worn at the discretion of the center referee when one team is wearing gold or yellow jerseys. However, STARs are not required or expected to own an alternate color jersey.
  2. Footwear suitable for running is required. Black footwear is highly encouraged to present a professional appearance.
  3. A basic uniform is available at prices ranging from $36 to $45 online or from several local soccer retailers.  In addition to the shirt, shorts, and socks, a first-time STAR will need an adhesive velcro disc for attaching the referee badge, cost about $1.00.  The badge is provided by the instructor at end of the class.
  4. When at the field, including before and after the match, referees should present a professional appearance, including socks pulled up and shirts tucked in.
  5. STARs may wear a hat. The hat should be a baseball cap type, and black, without any logo or seal except for that of USSF.
  6. STARs must also have flags (provided by the center referee), a log for recording the score and other game events, pen or pencil, and watch. 



  1. Approach the referee and determine whether assistant referees have been assigned for the match. If two STARs are needed, each team may provide one STAR, should one be available from each team. If two STARs are needed and one team has none available, and one team has two available, the two available from one team will serve. If only one STAR is needed by the referee, and both teams have a STAR available, the STARs will decide among themselves who will serve. If they cannot come to a decision, the center referee will choose one STAR to serve the entire match. Two STARs may not share the duty of one position, whether from the same or opposing teams. If two positions are available and only one STAR is available, the one STAR may serve, and the center referee will determine whether or not to use another person for the second position.
  2. STARs serve the entire match and will not be substituted except in severe extenuating circumstances, and only with the permission of the referee.  In case a STAR fails to complete a match, the center referee has wide discretion on whether to replace the STAR with a certified referee, another person, or leave the position vacant.
  3. STARs should meet with the referee at least 15 minutes before the scheduled game start, and from then until the end of the match should not participate with their team in warm-ups, training, administration, etc.
  4. STARs serve as directed by the referee, who serves as directed by USSF, their state referee organization, and NCSL. During the pre-game meeting, the referee should instruct the assistant referees regarding field and equipment inspection, positioning, mechanics, and how in-and-out-of play, offside, fouls, etc. should be signaled. The referee has wide discretion utilizing assistant referees, including positioning the assistants, and directing the assistant referees whether or not to signal fouls.
  5. Once the game begins, the STARs should not communicate with the players or spectators except in their capacity as a referee.
  6. STARs must stay with the referee during halftime, not with their teams.
  7. STARs should meet briefly with the referee after the match to discuss match events and ensure the game results (score, cautions and ejections, injuries, etc.) are properly recorded.
  8. STARs must ensure the referee signs the NCSL STAR Record form so that their team receives payment for their services. This form can be found on the league website under NCSL Forms.

6. Questions, Comments, and Suggestions