1. What was it that got you into refereeing?
Having played until the age of c. 12 it was pretty evident that I wasn’t a player. I was always that kid running away from the contact. At this point I drifted away from playing the sport but still had a big passion for it.
From here I refereed my first adult game, after doing multiple social matches at my school on a Friday night. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and getting through the game with lots of positive comments was a huge added bonus! It was suggested by my local RDO alongside YRA Mentor Pete Bunting that I should join a join my local society – and the rest as they say is history!
2. What’s the most rewarding thing about refereeing?
Refereeing enables me to participate in a sport that I would have drifted away from due to my lack of playing capabilities. It provides a unique insight into the game and can be very mentally and physically challenging at times.
It has enabled me to be a part of many tournaments and festivals, such as B7’s, Sedbergh 7’s, NOE 7’s to name but a few. This season I was also meant to have been travelling further afield to Portugal – however the Covid-19 outbreak has cut this opportunity short for the time being. It has also opened up other endless opportunities such as playing a significant role in my selection on to the National Youth Council.
In addition, refereeing has enabled the building of friendships that will last a lifetime as well as providing a scholarship at University where I have been able to enhance my refereeing capabilities to a level that would otherwise be unimaginable.
3. Tell us about your favourite photo?
A photo of me Chris White (Whitey) and Fergus, a fellow referee scholar at the University of Gloucestershire, and good friend! This photo sums up perfectly everything that refereeing has provided. The opportunity to develop lifelong friendships that I ordinarily wouldn’t have had.
It also illustrates the opportunities that I have been given to work with people who have an invaluable knowledge of the game. It always amazes me how many professionals (both current and ex) are willing to give their time and pass on their knowledge in order to assist with the development of the next generation of referees. It’s something I will never take for granted.
4. Tell us about your local referee society or association/club.
Staffordshire Referee Society have been nothing short of brilliant in supporting my refereeing development since the day I joined the society. Jason Powell assisted me through the earlier stages, something I am eternally grateful for, and Craig Maxwell Keys is my current coach. Craig is guiding and challenging me through the next stages as a referee.
There are so many to thank who are involved to the successful running of our society. The development squad at Staffs provide is of a huge importance, not only to my improvement but for referees across our society. Working in a small nit team compared to other societies provides a great opportunity to bounce ideas and has been of a great assistance.
Away from Staffs Society, I am fortunate to be a part of a referee scholarship programme run by Chris White with the able assistance of Christophe Ridley. This is of a great benefit, not only to me but for many other referees and sporting officials across different sporting disciplines.
Whilst studying at University, it is Gloucestershire Society who have provided me with fixtures as well as other opportunities to enhance my refereeing capabilities.
5. How do you manage school / university / work life with refereeing?
I’m in a really fortunate position at my University where I have plenty of time to train and referee on a regular basis.
It is about planning ahead. Anticipating the busy periods in terms of University deadlines and then planning effectively to ensure they are met. If I manage my work efficiently, I can sometimes put some of my studies on the back-burner in order to prioritise my refereeing.
In essence, it is all about communication and the willingness to have conversations with people that you may deem awkward. So long you are honest and don’t try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, I am yet to meet someone who hasn’t been understanding of my refereeing commitments!