I’m reading more and more unfortunate reports of molested refs these days. Being hit by players or spectators who didn’t agree with their ruling. But behold, a new generation of refs is about to step in…. and has done so during the last couple of years.
Ever since I started with my ref mentor activities two years ago, I’ve accompanied new referees on their first steps and reported to the Dutch FA on their debut games. 9 out of 10 refs performed pretty well and I could help them with some practical tips&tricks to become a better ref in the speed lane.
Most of the rookie refs have 2-3 years of club refereeing under their belt and made considerable ‘ref mileage’ before they decided to become a certified ref. They are not only teenagers but I’ve also seen many guys in their 40s and 50s. This sometimes mean you only have to tell them things like to be stricter in card management and add more decorum to the game. Entering the pitch with two teams and AR’s in stead of arriving in the middle on your own.
Apart from obvious checks like interpreting and applying the rules, and taking good positions at restarts, we also train them on things like keeping a healthy distance from the moment they arrive at a club. You don’t have to become friends with either team or coaches. I always advice them to be strict but friendly as you never know how they will behave once you blow the whistle. I’ve seen too many Jackal and Hydes in my ref career. And take every game as a new game, with new situations, never assuming you’ve seen things before and can tell where it will be going and what the score will be.
The FA’s decision to have mentors available during the ref courses teaches the rookie refs to evaluate their own performance and bring the sometimes critical reports to the table. Apart from my written report, I’ve decided to make videoclips with my smartphone and transfer the most relevant clips after the game. With my earbuds in, I can do two things at the same time: verbally reporting and recording the refs activity on camera.
Despite society coarsening and people taking things in their own hands too often, I believe a new generation of referees is getting ready and capable to lead games in better ways than before. Football deserves it.