Journey as a Grassroots Referee - Lewis Neale

Part 1: My Motivations as a junior referee and the FA Refereeing Course

Why I wanted to become a junior referee…

Hi, my name is Lewis and I am 14 years old. I live in Lancashire and play for my local junior grassroots club, Leyland Albion.  I’m a long-time Arsenal supporter. Since I first began to play football I have always wanted to become a professional footballer. However, that dream is becoming quite unrealistic and I have decided that being a referee is the next best thing. Because if I was to progress to a higher level I would have the chance to stay involved with the game and have the chance to go to major football stadiums and meet huge footballing stars. Also, it is a good way of staying active and also earning a bit of money at the same time. It may also teach me qualities like confidence, social skills and responsibility.

Junior Referee - Refereeing Course - Lewis 1
Lewis lifting the Arsenal FA Cup trophy

Refereeing course day 1:

Having completed all the FA’s pre-course learning materials and safeguarding modules online. I was able to register on refereeing course. However, due to the lack of availability of courses in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire, me and my dad had to travel to Carlisle in Cumberland FA, over a period of 2 days to take my course and qualify as a trainee referee. So, on day one we began by watching an introduction video about how to be a referee and what it means. At around 10:30 we went out onto the actual Carlisle fc  ground and stood around the centre circle. We practiced basic refereeing skills such as lining skills and whistling. After around an hour, we did attack vs defence scenarios where it was 6 vs 5 with one of the students being the referee. The main referee who ran the course (Scott) gave feedback on the referee and intel on what to do in different match scenarios and positioning. The other professional referees took part in the game and gave the training referees decisions on what to do such as penalties, free-kicks, corners and many different types of cheating. After lunch we did the same up until everyone had had a go as the referee. And by then it was 3:00 and the first day had come to an end.

Personally I thought that I learned a lot from that day due to it being very interactive and I got a lot of knowledge and some experience for when I start refereeing matches. In addition, the staff were very approachable, friendly and helpful. It was also a good experience being able to play on a professional ground even though it wasn’t anything competitive.

Junior Referee - Refereeing Course - Lewis 2
Lewis in his Arsenal away kit

Refereeing course day 2:

So on day 2, we stayed in the sort of reception room in the stadium. We started off by taking online kahoot styled quizzes where we were tested on the rules of the game for a mars bar. We also worked in groups of 4 and had to write down different ideas and would then discuss our ideas with the other groups. Throughout the discussions the professional referees shared their experiences and knowledge which I found very helpful and beneficial to me in the future. We also watched videos and read other bits of detail on an online powerpoint. An example of one of the modules we viewed was to do with discipline and fouls. We were given yellow and red cards and viewed a plethora of different types of fouls and handballs and we had to show either red, yellow or nothing and then explain our decision. Overall I believe the course was very helpful and really helped me in many areas of being a referee.

What next?

The next step for me on this journey as a junior referee is to find a mentor to watch me in 2 out of 5 matches and then I will be fully qualified. This coming weekend, I will be refereeing three ‘u8s games’ at a Central Venue with Lancashire FA, which I am both excited for the upcoming season but nervous as well. I will share my thoughts and reflections on this in my next blog post series.

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