The Hardest Job In The World: Football Ref?
InSITE reporter Paul Rogers investigates a new refereeing academy in Hereford and asks why would anyone want to be a ref?!
Football referees are in the spotlight like never before. With the large amounts of money now in the game and the many cameras watching their every move, every decision they make is scrutinised. Managers argue about their ‘wrong’ decisions costing vital games for their team, players surround them on the pitch and much of the media vilify them. So is being a football referee an impossible job? Not according to Sean Dipple, Herefordshire FA’s referee football co-ordinator, who has recently set up a young referee’s academy in the county.
“It is easy to become judgemental in relation to referees, particularly as top level games are scrutinised. Therefore, it’s important that we keep training referees, which is the main reason why I decided to set up the academy. Only two referees have progressed up the ladder in Hereford, so something needed to be done,” said Sean.
The academy started in September 2005 as part of the National FA initiative and runs different courses throughout the year. It‘s for young people aged 16+ and currently has eight young people going through the scheme. The group vary in age, which means that, according to Sean, the older ones help the younger ones progress up the ladder.
It takes about ten to 12 years to become a top-level referee if you start training at age 16. There are seven levels of refereeing to work through throughout a typical career. The main focus of the course is to teach the young refs good habits and to enable them to become established and confident referees in Hereford before they move onto bigger games.
Funded by the Football Association, the course lasts between six and eight weeks and takes place at the Herefordshire FA's headquarters.
Sean became football co-ordinator for the Herefordshire FA in February 2006. He is a FA licensed referee, has refereed in the FA Premiership Academy in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire and was also an assessor for eleven and five-a-side matches. So he’s seen the game from all sides.
Sean believes that the role of a football referee has become harder in recent years, which he says has not been helped by the players. "The players can do a lot to help referees, the game should be about them rather than the referees," he said. Sean believes that a referee’s job can also be helped by technology (similar to that they use in Rugby matches) but he says this should mainly be used for goal line decisions. He says that mental toughness is a key ingredient in becoming a referee, which is why the academy focuses on confidence and team building for in training future referees.
The course is open to both girls and boys. There are only four registered women referees in the county and Hereford already has a Girls School of Excellence and Women and Girls Leagues for football, Sean is keen to encourage more girls to take up the opportunity to start training as referees too.
To find out more about the referee school in Hereford and how you can get involved check out the Herefordshire FA website www.herefordshirefa.com or contact Sean directly on 0781 089 1390.