Twelve-year-old boys and girls have been refereeing in Indiana, and throughout the United States for more than 40 years. However, in 2012 Indiana Soccer suspended the use of 12- and 13-year-olds from participating as referees due to Indiana’s child labor law.
Murray Clark, the president of Indiana Soccer; Samir Yasa, Indiana’s State Referee Administrator; and Matthew Burkart, one of the 12-year-old referees negatively affected by the current law that prohibits those under 14 years of age from refereeing, were able to meet with the General Council and the Commissioner at the Department of Labor.
This meeting was the first step to explore how the law could be changed to allow children under age 14 to referee. Mathew, after communicating with the appropriate stakeholders, received a call from Senator Becker on Jan. 16, informing him that the Chairman of the Pensions and Labor Committee requested that he attend the Committee’s hearing to speak in support of the bill.
Yesterday morning, Samir Yasa and Murray Clark attended the hearing to lend their support for Matthew Burkart and the hundreds of 12- and 13-year-old children that wish to serve as referees in Indiana.
"Matthew’s performance at the hearing was outstanding," Clark said.
Yasa stated, "I was very impressed to see Murray Clark, Indiana Soccer’s President, articulate the matter so succinctly for the committee. It is evident that Murray understands the legislative process and believes in the importance of the young referees’ role in soccer."
After the presentation by Matthew and Murray, the 10-member committee voted unanimously to move the proposed Senate Bill 153 on to the next level. "I am very pleased with the outcome so far," Yasa said.
Clark was pleased with the response by the Pensions and Labor Committee. "By its unanimous passage this morning by the Indiana Pensions and Labor Committee, this important initiative has cleared the first legislative hurdle," Clark said. "The bill (SB153) will likely head to the floor of the Senate early next week. Matthew was the star witness and immensely impressed members of the Senate committee that is populated with legislators from throughout the state."
Indiana Soccer is very grateful to the committee members for taking this issue seriously.
"Many thanks to Senator Vanetta Becker from Evansville for authoring and spearheading this legislation," Clark said.