The Bracknell Town & District Sunday League is on the lookout for new referees to join the competition for the new season.
Rather than just post an ad, Football in Berkshire decided to ask one of the league’s existing ref’s what it was like in an attempt dislodge a few assumptions about reffing in Sunday League football.
Oh, and before we go on, here is the ad:
The Bracknell Sunday League seeks referees to joint the League’s list for the coming season. Games are played mainly in Bracknell and surrounding towns (Wokingham, Finchampstead, Sandhurst). A good match rate is paid (£40 per game). If interested please call Mick White, League Secretary, on 07926 630205.
So that’s the admin, but which ref to speak to? We went for James Knight, partly because we’ve got his number and partly because he’s a Bracknell Football Award winner! Here’s what he told us.
What’s been great?
I’ve finally learnt the laws of the game despite having played for 25 years!!
It allows me to continue being involved in the game I love. I played in the Bracknell Sunday League for longer than I care to remember for Warfield United so it’s great to still be able to stay involved now my playing days are over.
I have also enjoyed being completely out of my comfort zone and being at the bottom end of the experience ladder. Professionally, I am confident in my ability and have acquired the experience necessary to deliver my job… being a new referee is very humbling and I have learnt that age just isn’t a factor when it comes to being able to learn from people… I’ve come across some brilliant younger referees who have been great in sharing knowledge and experience.
I had a great season last year and was appointed to some decent games throughout the season as well as being involved in the final of the Junior cup and, as you know, I was lucky enough to pick up an award this year from FIB.
What’s not been so great?
Watching football as a fan will never be the same again. I find myself focusing on the officials more than I ever have before which can be a bit annoying… although it is also a welcomed distraction when Spurs are not playing so well!
What have I learnt about reffing?
It’s important to let your own personality shine through and find your own style of refereeing – There may be a preconceived idea that you need to be like Judge Dredd but some of the best referees I have come across have very calm demeanour and this is one of the reasons I decided to become a referee… The aim for me is always to be the calmest person on the pitch and I’m developing the ability to think clearly and logically when there are flash points in the game. I think this is just a fantastic transferable skill to every walk of life and I’m sure I will become a more rounded person because of refereeing.
I’ve also learnt that it is harder than it looks! There is a lot to think about during a game and a lot of decisions to make… You can’t speed up the process and I’ve found that the more experience I am getting, the easier it is becoming.
Use the available support channels. I joined the Bracknell Referee’s Association (link here) and there is a wealth of experience throughout and it is a great support network. There is a brilliant mix of young, up and coming referees and some older experienced refs. Neville Batt is involved in both distributing fixtures for the Bracknell Sunday League and sits on the RA board and is incredibly supportive, so the RA is a must for me, Steve Sherry has also been a great support and so has Ray Henson – Ray has been to see me in his own time and offered some really useful feedback which you need as a new ref.
Starting refereeing with my good friend Daniel Edwards has also been very useful! I am lucky enough to have constant support through him and vice versa. We both take it seriously and I love the fact that the second we get back in our cars after our games we call each other to find out how the other person has got on and how we have dealt with the different situations. It’s a bit sad really but it has been much needed on occasion.
Be open to feedback (as you’re going to get it one way or another!) and don’t be afraid to ask for help – there is a huge learning curve which seems to last forever! Listening to more experienced referees and using the tips and tricks they suggest really does make a huge difference. From positioning to conflict management, the experience is there, and you must tap into it to improve.
Career prospects and opportunities
One thing I didn’t realise was how much opportunity there was in the refereeing world. I’ve signed up to the Thames Valley Premier League this year as well as the Bracknell Sunday League. Because of this I’ve worked with some brilliant young referees. Just last Saturday I was lucky enough to be assistant referee for an FA Vase game where the man in the middle was an up and coming 18-year-old level 5 referee who was going for promotion to level 4 and had been assigned a core coach from the FA. These young referees are going places and have a very real chance of making a living from refereeing. This is just something I had never thought about when I was younger and had I known then how much I enjoy refereeing it would have been something I would have pursued.
The aim for myself and for Daniel now is to progress as far as we can promotions wise and then look to mentor some younger referees. There is a big jump between youth football and adult football and we would both like to offer some direct support to help these young referees transition into the adult football.