Who would be a referee? After all, it does seem to be a pretty thankless task! Whether it’s a game on TV or a local Sunday match, the referee always gets some stick … and I’ll confess, I’ve been at a professional match and booed the ref! It’s the same situation if you go to watch a local five-a-side league. Now you might say, referees get a match fee … and sometimes this is correct … but it’s nowhere near enough for the regular abuse they receive.
You’ll find at junior level, league appointed referees are very rare. It’s because there is a shortage of qualified referees … I wonder why? As a result, home teams normally have to rely on a coach or an assistant or a parent to officiate. It’s certainly not an easy job to do … but without these unsung volunteers the game just can’t be played.
So having said all that … I enjoy refereeing … I really do. So why, you might ask? Well having played for many years, we all get to that point of hanging-up our boots. Then you either walk away from football, perhaps become a football administrator or a volunteer … or become a coach or referee … or in my case, both a coach and referee.
I see being a Referee a challenge, a test. It also gets me in amongst the action. I have the best view of the game and it also helps out the home team coach who can focus on his team. That’s why I do it.
Of course, it still comes with some pressure and it can sometimes get to you. I try to focus on U10 to U13 games because they’re slightly easier to handle … but players, coaches and parents are not slow in coming forward to point out your mistakes. I’ve been verbally abused by a player and I’ve had to stop the game a couple of times to speak with coaches, players or parents. Generally though, things have gone pretty well and I normally look forward to the next game.
So now dear reader, let’s make a deal;
• As referee, I always speak to both teams before KO about how I like to referee the game.
• I’m quite vocal during the game and try and communicate with all involved and I do this throughout the game.
• I also try to keep up with the game to make the best decisions possible.
• I make decisions as I see them and of course, I make mistakes but I am honest and try to be consistent.
And if I can always do that, here’s your side of the deal;
• Put yourself in my boots and appreciate we have a different view of an incident. I may have seen something you haven’t. You may have seen something I haven’t.
• Let players make their own decisions, please don’t coach and don’t appeal for decisions.
• Don’t openly criticise the referee. I’m always willing to discuss decisions after the game but during the game, players just copy you.
• Try to not make it all about the referee. Even if a poor decision has been made, was it the only thing to alter the outcome of the game and anyway, is it that big a deal? Please remember, its children playing and it’s not the Premier League or FA Cup.
So I hope we have a deal … and I hope this article makes some sense? If we do, and it does, then we’ll all be happier. Remember what they say … no ref, no game!