New initiative to support young referees

Warrington Town recently hosted the launch of a new respect initiative to support young referees by the Liverpool County FA.

Referee Development Manager, Dave Horlick, Designated Safeguarding officer, Gordon Johnson and Select Group Assistant Referee Ian Hussin attended the Warrington Referee Development Group meeting held at Cantilever Park to distribute the armbands and supporting literature to young referees from the Warrington Junior Football league.

Aimed at supporting young match officials in the area, the new initiative will see yellow armbands introduced for all referees under the age of 18 in youth football to remind everyone that the referee is still subject to the children’s safeguarding legislation – and should therefore be protected, encouraged and treated with respect.

David Horlick, Liverpool County FA Referee Development Manager, said: “Over 35% of our referees across the County FA area are under the age of 18. It is vitally important that they are supported and developed to ensure they continue to referee for many years to come, with some of them hopefully progressing to officiate in the higher echelons of the game.”

Gordon Johnson, the County FA Designated Safeguarding Office, added: “The idea of the yellow armbands is to help identify those referees who are under the age of 18 and to ensure they are supported and at the same time ensure that managers, coaches, parents and spectators think twice about making abusive or insulting comments to the young referee.

“Essentially, the armbands are to remind adults that the match official is still a child, learning to be the best official they can be. Let’s remember, they are there because they enjoy being involved in football, it’s their game too as well as the players.”

David Pugh, Liverpool County FA Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are fully committed to The FA’s Respect programme and the ‘We Only Do Positive’ mantra. We have implemented the FA Respect initiatives at all levels of the game locally and have also introducing our own schemes, like this referee armband initiative for officials under the age of 18.

“It is important that Respect is embedded across all levels of the game and that an innovative approach is taken to proactively educate the importance of Respect across our game.”

Together with the Yellow armbands all under 18 referees are also being supplied with a supporting guidance booklet on ‘Promoting Safety and Respect Within the Game’, the contents of which offer further advice, support and contacts information details for the young officials as they embark upon or continue along their refereeing journey.

Gordon Johnson added: “The new initiative has received some great exposure and feedback via social media leading up to our launch.

“We would like to thank everybody involved for the part they have played, especially Warrington Town Football Club for allowing us to launch locally ahead of their Northern Premier League game against Stafford Rangers and also the young referees from the Warrington Junior League who are here assisting us in the launch.

“Moving forwards, we will now be working closely with all of our youth leagues and young referees to ensure that the armbands are visible across the Liverpool County FA area, whilst also ensuring that young officials receive the appropriate level of support and respect.”

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