Our Referee Support Group was introduced last year and has already provided valuable assistance to officials across the county
Last year Hertfordshire FA formed a dedicated Referee Support Group to offer advice and guidance to any local match official who is involved a serious incident as detailed in a match report submitted to us.
The group, which aims to help referees move forward and recover from a bad experience, is made up of six experienced referees from around the county, along with members of the Hertfordshire FA Referee’s Committee.
Since it was introduced the group have provided support to 25 referees, of which 8 have been under the age of 18.
Upon receipt of a referee report which includes an allegation of threatening and abusive language, physical contact on a match official or any other behaviour that may require additional support, we share details with an appropriate member of the Support Group.
The referee will then receive a call or email, firstly to see how they are doing following the incident and to understand if they need further support, advice or guidance.
The primary goal of this group is to ensure that nobody feels like they have to deal with these situations alone. We want to make sure that those who face difficult experiences are supported to continue refereeing and remain in the game.
Colin Sherwood, a former referee who runs a mentoring scheme for trainee refs and a Member of the Referee Support Group said:
“I believe the Referee Support Group is a great initiative in which I am pleased to participate. It is satisfying to know that using my experience may help ensure that a challenging situation in a particular game does not lead to a referee giving up the whistle”
Ethan (16) was contacted in September after an incident involving a club official:
“I was contacted and got plenty of help and support after facing the difficulties I experienced. This helped me regain my confidence and continue refereeing, which is something I am happy to be enjoying again.”
We take incidents of poor behaviour by players or club officials against referees very seriously and ask everyone involved in the game to report these to us so that they can be dealt with appropriately.
We also work closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary and by doing so aim to build confidence in the support received from both organisations when referees report serious incidents, with specific advice provided in this guidance document.
Protecting Young Referees
A number of County FAs have in recent years introduced schemes such as purple shirts or armbands for referees under the age of 18, in an effort to reduce incidents of intimidation and verbal abuse towards young officials.
Earlier this year we carried out a survey to understand the views of young referees on this subject, asking whether they thought such a scheme would benefit them and make for a better environment around their games.
The responses we received were mixed. While some liked the idea and felt it might make adults check their behaviour, others felt that it could create its own problems, potentially reducing their credibility by being seen as inexperienced or less qualified.
At present there is no clear evidence from counties who have implemented them to suggest that such schemes are successful in changing the behaviour of spectators, club official or players towards young referees.
As such we do not have plans to implement a campaign like this at the present time and will continue working with young referees to gauge their views on whether they would like us to pilot this in the near future.
Supporting Referee Development
We have already delivered a number of successful referee CPD events this year and will continue to provide a CPD Programme for registered referees in Hertfordshire, with some exciting plans for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
Upcoming events will cover a range of areas including that Laws of The Game, training on Sin Bins, advice from Hertfordshire Constabulary and will feature guest speakers from The FA and officials from different levels of football.
Please keep an eye on our website, social media and your emails for further details.