A referee from Sussex will be in part of the officiating team at this weekend’s FA Community Shield.
He spoke to SussexWorld about the news, his refereeing career and what it takes to become a Premier League and International Assistant Referee.
How are you feeling about refereeing the FA Community Shield on Sunday?
"I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to represent the FA and PGMOL in this game as an assistant referee – I can’t wait to get out there! It’s also one of the four major domestic honours (Community Shield, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Championship Play off Final) which generally you only officiate once, so it’s a huge honour.”
Where were you when you received the news?
"I was actually in the middle of a gruelling pre-season training session when the call came and originally missed it. When I called back and heard about the game I just had a huge sense of pride and satisfaction; that changed quickly into finishing fitness test preparation and after that building match focus and technical preparation for the match.”
How did you get into refereeing?
"When I was growing up a family friend was a local referee and used to talk about it a lot – then I took the exam three days after my 14th birthday in 1997.
"I’m originally from Surrey so qualified there but I’ve lived in Sussex since 2006 as I moved down due to my old job. Now I live on the coast and will never leave.”
Talk me through your pathway to becoming an elite level referee?
“When I started the pathway was youth football, then working your way up through adult football and into semi, then professional football – it took me 15 years to get on to the Premier League.
"The pathway is supportive for everyone and if you have the right attitude, ability and willingness to learn you can get there much quicker.”
What have been the major challenges for you on that journey?
"There’s many, but none that can’t be overcome. Work, family and making the commitment that means that when everyone is at home enjoying live football or going out on a Friday/Saturday night I’m usually travelling up and down the country for a game.
"You miss out on a lot of social things but the job gives you experiences that you could never imagine would happen to you.”
What do you think are the key characteristics that make a good referee?
"Being able to learn quickly from errors and taking ownership of your performance is a huge thing for me, yes my decisions can affect the outcome of huge football matches but to thrive you need the humility and self awareness to understand when you can improve.
"Also, nobody will go through their career’s with our periods of difficulty, so resilience is vital to steady the ship through those tough times coming through.”
What advice would you give to any young person who wants to be a referee or has just started out on their journey?
"As I’ve said previously, taking ownership of the decisions you make along your journey so developing your mindset to a point where you essentially review yourself regularly will hold you in good stead.
"More practically speaking, follow the advice of the fantastic coaching and mentoring schemes that the local county FAs set up in the early years of your journey.”
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What is the best thing about being a referee?
"Being involved in professional football is a constant challenge but one that brings huge opportunities and excitement! Refereeing (or assistant refereeing in my case) for a living is such an honour which I’m constantly grateful for.”
Why should someone think about becoming a referee?
“I think that whatever level you referee at it can give you a sense of purpose and allows you to be involved in football in your own way. Whether you have ambitions to reach the top, or find your level somewhere else, it keeps you fit and develops transferable skills that you can use in every walk of life.”