The AFA has an excellent Refereeing Academy based at Barnet FC in Edgware, where the facilities are the envy of many a Premier club. It is run in conjunction with Middlesex FA, and offers opportunities for referees with limited experience to officiate in a protected environment, with referee coaches on hand to give constructive advice for improving performance.
The games are usually on Sunday mornings where Barnet hosts a number of Football League clubs throughout the season in the U-11s to U-15s age groups.
Q. Who can apply to join?
A. These games are particularly suited to younger qualified AFA referees in the 14-25 age bracket, but we will consider applications from any referee who is keen, has a commitment to learning, and can demonstrate a level of ability and talent to progress up the refereeing ladder.
Q. What support is offered?
A. Each week a Match Day Delegate (MDD) is present to interface between the Club and the referees. The MDD oversees the pre-and post-match briefing sessions as well as the standard (level 4 and above) warm-up and coaching between periods of play, and generally looks after the referees.
Q. Who runs the Academy?
A. The appointments for both referees and MDDs are made by an Academy Director in conjunction with the RDOs from both Counties.
Q. Are there any special expectations of the referee?
A. Yes. As well as showing commitment and a desire to improve, a willingness to take on board advice is essential. Other Academy rules include attending one-and-a-quarter hours before kick-off smartly attired in shirt and tie, and closing dates if not available. If appointments are turned down more than once when the referee has not closed the date, or if the referee is late without informing the MDD of exceptional circumstances on two occasions then the referee will be removed from the Academy. Similarly there are restrictions to referring to games on any social media. The referee will be expected to sign-up to a Code of Conduct which defines these good practices.
Q. Why is this?
A. The purpose of the Academy is to prepare referees for what to expect when they reach level 4 and above, where poor administration and appearance will not be tolerated by the FA.
Q. Is there any feedback?
Yes. In addition to supplying healthy refreshments in a goodie bag to complement the match fee, the MDD also provides an on-the-spot feedback form after discussions with each referee, which both parties sign, and which provide a record of the referee’s progress which can then be monitored.
Q. How long do I stay in the Academy?
The contract is for one year and can be optionally renewed for a second year if both parties agree that the referee will continue to benefit from the Academy.
Q. Is there life after the Academy?
Part of the ethos of the Academy is to identify talent, and assist the referees to gain promotion. For selected referees who have shown the potential to progress to higher levels, this County level Academy can be a stepping stone to the Regional FA-run academy, part of the FA Regional Development Programme (FARDP), thus providing an integrated career path for referees.
For more information, please contact John Cooke, AFA Referee Development Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07973136908.