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Why become a referee?
Howard Webb
Howard Webb
Premiership referee

I never actually wanted to be a referee growing up as a teenager. It wasn't something that appealed to me.

But when I realised I wasn't going to get to the heights I'd hoped for as a player, my father, who was a referee, made me aware of a referee's course.

I thought I'd give it a go because most of the referees for the games that I'd played in seemed to be old men.

Howard Webb
35 years old
Began refereeing in 1989 in Rotherham
Football League referee for three years
Premier League official since 2003

I honestly thought there was a need for some younger people to be involved. I also thought that younger refs might get more respect because they might be fitter and be a bit more in tune with the game.

So me and a few mates went down and passed the course when I was about 19 years old.

Even back then leagues were so desperately short of officials, so you got games straight away.

And if you had an aptitude for it then you got pushed through the ranks quite quickly.

I got a lot of pleasure from refereeing right from the start. Every time you walk out onto the field, the FA are entrusting you with that particular game.

For a young lad of 19, that gives you a feeling of worth. It made me feel quite responsible and that's the message I'm trying to get across.

When the game goes smoothly, you get a good feeling of satisfaction; that you've managed 22 people for 80 or 90 minutes for a successful game of football.

I got more satisfaction from that than being involved in a team that might have lost 5-0 on a Sunday morning.

On top of that you get all the benefits of maintaining your fitness, a good camaraderie amongst the refereeing community and now it can be a full-time career.

I never realised that when I started out.

Howard Webb
You need to have a strong personality and a belief in yourself

Howard Webb

At local level there is a lack of respect sometimes for those that have decided to become referees.

You get people who would never do it themselves and would rather stand there and criticise from the sidelines.

We have to try and educate people about the importance of referees. If we're short of referees at local level it will effect the quality of refs in six or seven years at the top level.

There are so many games that are being refereed by unqualified officials which is doing harm to the game.

I know from when I played there is nothing better than when a referee turns up who is neutral and qualified.

It's just like having proper nets in the goal or having a decent ball; it's part and parcel of what you need to have a good game.

I've never experienced any violence as a referee but then being 6'3" and 15 1/2 stone probably helps!

Not that you need to be that. You need to have a strong personality and a belief in yourself.

Being a good referee is all down to the way you manage people and how you communicate with them.

You need to be fit and you need to be dedicated. If you're a young person you need to aspire high but keep your feet on the ground and be prepared to learn and listen.

Ref Webb suffers sleepless nights
25 Aug 06 |  Get Involved
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05 Sep 05 |  Get Involved


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