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Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 17:09 UK

Referees ready for renewed respect

by BBC Blast reporter Paul Maughan


With the new football season approaching, and the Football Association taking action to help referees, the training and development of referees is as important and relevant as it has ever been.

Starting with the Community Shield game between Manchester United and Portsmouth on Sunday, 10 August, the FA will launch its new initiative designed to cut down the harassment of officials.

The Respect campaign is the FA's response to the growing numbers of referees who are quitting the game after receiving abuse.

At grassroots level, it concentrates on decreasing the abuse given to referees by over-zealous parents and coaches.

Based in Chester-le-Street, the Durham FA regularly runs referee training courses, to train up officials and give candidates an opportunity to experience all aspects of the role, including the negatives.

The FA has certain types of trainees in mind, who can deal with the pressure placed on them.

"The ideal candidates the FA is looking for are aged about 32 and upwards, as they have often played the game and are looking to put something back into it," referee development officer Jeff Russell told BBC Sport.

Jeff Russell
Russell hopes potential referees realise the pressures involved

"They have also got experience of life. They've been through some confrontation situations, the type of which can happen in a game, and can use their man-management skills to deal with this.

"These aren't the only candidates we want however, as we do run courses in the school holidays as 60% of our candidates are aged from 14 to 16, and want to learn about officiating."

To qualify from the three-day course, candidates must pass a practical and written exam, and then need to referee six full 11-a-side games before being signed off as a fully qualified referee.

Durham FA has a high number of successful candidates, something Russell is immensely proud of.

"In the last year we have had about 160 successful candidates, 70 of which are fully qualified now and 40 are nearly there, the rest are still doing their six games," he added.

"The course is going quite well at the moment, and recruitment numbers are high, so it's good."

However, the problem is not in recruiting referees but in retaining them.

Company secretary John Topping believes that this is why the new Respect campaign is so important.

"Many referees leave the game because of the comments and the behaviour they have to tolerate from outside of the pitch, from parents and coaches," he said.

"The Respect campaign will mean that there will be designated areas for parents to stand in, at least a metre from the pitch. The campaign was trialled across nine counties, and this was one of the big thumbs ups of it."

Russell also spoke about how they hope to spread the course all around the region and get even more people involved.

He said: "We are not just sticking to Durham. We've run courses in Jarrow, Stockton and we are looking at a big course in Darlington with 40 candidates on it.

"It would be a massive group, and a big commitment from our instructors but it is important we get all around the county training referees."

see also
Premier League names youngest ref
25 Jun 08 |  Premier League
Ref critics 'must be dealt with'
09 Jun 08 |  Football
Sports psychologists to aid refs
07 Jun 08 |  Football
Crying foul over hooligan parents
11 Apr 08 |  Football
Junior football 'violent'
19 Dec 05 |  Get Involved

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