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The following is a letter received from Ian Binks Who is the County Welfare and Respect Officer at the Hampshire FA.
Parent Referees and Young Level 9 Referees
Dear Secretaries and CWOs,
Since the season commenced, I have received the moans and groans of parents, managers, coaches and club members regarding their match being spoilt by the referee, the opponents referee, the opponents linesman, the animals we played against last week, their parents on the line, the linesman coaching his players.
The coach shouting at our players (normally the writer’s son or daughter). The referee didn’t stop play when one of our players was injured (normally the writer’s son or daughter). The referee ignored our injured player (normally the writer’s son or daughter). 50% of the complaints involve matches at U9 and U8 level, not surprisingly, very few are at U16.
What is most disturbing is receiving emails from match referees who have been constantly criticised, verbally abused and threatened by club members and spectators, again just as disturbing I have even received emails from parent linesmen who no longer wish to be involved.
Allow me to put your matches in perspective.
Your teams are being refereed on many occasions by Parent (untrained) and Young Level 9 Referees.
A Level 9 Referee is a person who has completed the 12-hour tuition stage and passed the written examinations. Once he or she has completed the above stage of the course they are required to referee six (6) 11 v 11 matches to become a fully qualified Football Association referee.
To gain experience and confidence, many of them use mini soccer (5 v 5, 7 v 7, 9 v 9). For some, this is their first taste of being a Referee and thus the experience gained from their initial matches is extremely valuable.
For many it is the decision, “Do I like what I am doing?”, “Am I enjoying this?”, “Why the heck am I here?” Someone has paid for the course (£35 to £78); someone has paid for the kit (£50) and the ‘prominently black’ new boots. Granted, once the six (11 v 11) matches have been completed the referee is reimbursed part of the fee (£10 for youth and £30 for adult).
To date, no newly trained referee or parent referee has been invited to referee at Old Trafford, the Emirates or Stamford Bridge, yet it appears that a number of parents, youth managers and youth coaches seem to compare them to such referees. Our referees do not appear on match-of-the-day and are not Howard Webb.
I therefore implore, that you insist that your more boisterous parents, over-excitable managers and coaches cease making any comment whatsoever towards match officials.
Hampshire FA has lost on average over the last seven (7) years, 350 qualified referees per year and an unquantifiable number of untrained, unqualified, unregistered parent referees – we only have 1,251 qualified match officials, 251 of whom are your Level 9s and we are a huge county – Bournemouth, Christchurch, the New Forest, Southampton, Eastleigh, Winchester, Andover, Basingstoke, Aldershot, Farnborough, Havant, Gosport, Fareham, Portsmouth and Waterlooville.
Without a referee, your matches will not take place – or should I more importantly say – without a referee your children will not be able to play their football match. Whoever goes into the middle (or on the line) to enable the match to take place should be applauded and thanked; not cursed and harangued.
After looking at the above statements who are the real losers in all this?
(a) The children – they hear the comments, repeat them to the match official; they then get cautioned or sent off. This may mean that they get suspended from playing and fined, any fine or administration charge arising out of misconduct by a child are levied on the club, and therefore the club has to sort out the fine.
(b) Your Club – you are losing hard earned money £50, £100, £150, £200 at a time. This is due to the unwanted comments and behaviour of your spectators – spectators (linked to your club) do not get disciplined, the club does, therefore the club has to pay any fines attributed to their spectators poor behaviour.
(c) The Coach / Manager – may be fined, suspended and, dependent on the nature, level or form of abuse when children are involved, will be reported nationally by referral.
(d) The parent referee – most quit as soon as they start. Yet you may be surprised to know that with your encouragement he/she may attend the referee course and learn the Laws of the Game. They have already started the process by volunteering to be the untrained person in the middle to ensure that the game gets played. The negative side is that without such parent referees games do not get played.
(e) The newly trained referee – many become distraught at the negative attitudes and aggressive behaviour presented towards them (but extremely rarely from players) and leave the game. Yet these are the very people who could give football and your league many years of support.
I am sure you are fortunate that none of the above involves any Coach, Manager, Parent or spectator at your club! But I would ask that the contents of this letter are brought to the attention of all within your club to ensure that the game we all wish to take part in is played without undue pressures being placed on those who give up their time voluntarily to ensure that a game is played.
County Welfare and Respect Officer
Winklebury Football Complex
“Using the Power of Football to build a better Future”