Non League Daily

You are the Ref: Why do people get into refereeing?

Refereeing, are we human?

We take up refereeing for all sorts of reasons. Some people hang up their boots after a long-playing career and want to extend their involvement in the game writes former Premier League and international referee Keith Hackett

University students who can earn some extra money by officiating at the weekend in the local parks. Parents, who go to a game and their son’s team does not have a referee, volunteer and then get hooked.

The important thing for all of them is to enjoy their participation, for they are certainly serving their community and the game in a positive manner.

When I blew my first whistle in a game at Intake School, Sheffield in 1960, little did I know that I would go on to become a FIFA referee, officiating on the world stage in over thirty five countries.

When I was appointed to the big games I always felt that I was carrying the flag for the 30,000 referees in England that I was representing.

The opportunity exists for many referees to reach the upper echelons.

However we must never forget our colleagues who officiate in wind, rain and snow in the local parks at the weekend.

Players today and often their parents do make life difficult for referees who after all are out to enjoy themselves has much has those playing.

They too have spent the week preparing for the game at the weekend.

Referees have to display courage and tenacity and go about their duties in applying the laws of the game in a fair manner.

Junior teams train more than in my day and this puts extra physical demands on the referee during the course of the game.

Pitches are not like those in the Premier League; sometimes they are on the side of a hill where ideally if you had one leg longer than the other you would be able to keep up with play.

I use to carry my flags onto the field hoping for a volunteer, it’s amazing how many parents, spectators shy away from wanting to assist.

I once did a game at Hallam Football Club, Sandygate Lane, Sheffield, and the oldest football ground in the world.

The pitch is about 45 degrees and a real test for any referee. On one occasion I received a knock on my dressing room door and a young guy volunteered to run me a line.

He informed me that he had just qualified has a referee so I was happy for him to ruin the line at the bottom end of the field.

Some twenty minutes into the game to the surprise of everyone including myself he was flagging vigorously.

I stopped play and approached him to enquire what offence he had seen and what he wanted me to do.

His response was “Why has that stopped the game, I said that I had stopped the game because he had raised his flag. “Oh he said,

I was just trying to attract me mate who I was meeting up with, he had just come through the top gate"

To my embarrassment I dropped the ball to restart the play between two players who were laughing their heads off.

During the summer months they will be called upon to officiate at various events, which sometimes will see them refereeing games from 9am to 5pm and beyond.

So if you fancy taking up the whistle then contact your local County Football Association.


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