Respect the Referee

Respect the Referee

Every match. Every league. Every championship. It’s the referees who are integral to a smooth-running game.

What’s Respect the Ref?

Every match. Every league. Every championship. It’s the referees who are integral to a smooth-running game. 

They work hard, train hard, show up and play hard – all to keep the game beautiful. They give their time and yet face negative attention and abuse in almost every match. Enough is enough. We can all play our part to show the ref some respect, to help make the game the best it can be. So, are you in? 

find out more about respect the referee

We will be speaking with Amateur FA referees throughout the season in our series 'Who is the Referee?', as we get to know the people behind the whistle.

Charlotte Dukes, Level 7 Referee

Charlotte Dukes


Why did you become a referee?
When I moved to London after university, I wanted to get immersed in the city's footballing community, joining the Victoria Park Vixens FC, an East London Grassroots team. Alongside playing, I wanted to challenge myself and try out refereeing as a means to get further involved in women's football, as well as taking a stride into an area that was still relatively underrepresented by women. 

What has been your favourite refereeing experience?
After I qualified as a Level 7 referee, I reached out to Goaldiggers FC who kindly let me referee some of their pre-season friendly fixtures in 2019, and the rest is history. I genuinely believe the open and friendly nature of the Goaldiggers fixtures allowed me to build my confidence as a referee- those first fixtures can be very intimidating for someone trying to apply the Laws of the Game for the first time. Another highlight was refereeing for the newly formed Girls Super League during their Summer launch tournaments, to be able to officiate and be a visible role model for the girls was very rewarding. 

What is the best thing about being a referee?
Refereeing has so many intricacies. From spotting the subtle points in the game that sped by your eyes and making critical game decisions in real-time - it's a real host of challenges every match. But equally these challenges are also the best thing about being a referee, you're pushed out of your comfort zone consistently and you improve as an official on the pitch, and in the transferable skills that refereeing equips you with off the pitch too. 

What has been your toughest moment in your refereeing career?
Every match brings its challenges. I remember one particular women's cup game that required an above-and-beyond amount of match control, and by the end I was emotionally exhausted (but proud of myself for persevering). After the match, I reached out to my refereeing mentor to debrief on the game and that was incredibly helpful for me, having a community to lean on as a referee is a very powerful support mechanism. 

What has being a referee given you?
The role itself is absolutely fascinating, as a referee I have become a better communicator, I've become much more assertive and I understand the quirks of the game better than I ever did before. 

Do you see yourself as a role model for others who are looking to get into refereeing?
I think you can make a tangible difference both on and off pitch when you're a referee. Whether its being the only female official on the Hackney Marshes on Sunday, or officiating a girls cup final. By being present, being vocal and standing your ground, you're taking the steps in your power to be there for any girl, boy, man or woman who thinks they'd like to give refereeing a go. 

What are your top three tips for being a referee?
1) Back yourself - you are qualified to be stood on that pitch and taking ownership of the match.  
2) Trust the process - difficult games will provide you with a wealth of learning.
3) Enjoy seeing a completely new perspective of the beautiful game. 

If you could tell players, officials and spectators one thing, what would it be?
Respect the ref. They love the game you're all playing too. 

Alex Whiteman, a Level 6 referee


Alex Whiteman referee

Why did you become a referee?
I became a referee because I wanted to stay involved in the  game after I became too old to play. I know how much joy that playing gave to me so I wanted to give a little back to the game.

What has been your favourite refereeing experience?
My favourite experience and story is when I turned up to a AFA U15 representative game to be 4th official and an Assistant Referee was late so I filled in as the AR for the 1st half.  At half time, the referee said that he had pulled his calf and asked me to fill in for the 2nd half. It was AFA v Sussex at Molesey.  I really enjoyed refereeing the 2nd half.

What is the best thing about being a referee?
The best thing about being a referee? It’s a difficult question as there are so many positives. The first one that come to mind is that you are paid to keep fit. People pay large sums for Gym membership. A referee gets 90 minutes of exercise and then gets paid. Then you get to meet lots of people and talk about the game that you love.

What has been your toughest moment in your refereeing career?
The toughest moment was being chased around the pitch by a player. It’s a long story but he was 20 years younger than me but I was still quicker!

Do you see yourself as a role model for others who are looking to get into refereeing?
I’m not a role model just an average referee. I would say that, unless they are looking to get to the top, play the game into your late 30s and then pick up the whistle. That’s what I did.

What are your top three tips for being a referee?
My 3 tips are:- Sometimes less is more and the players can sort a problem on their own. Don’t get involved unless you have to. The 2nd tip is to remember that it is the players game. The 3rd tip is maybe a combination of the first two but it is that, if you come off the pitch and no one has noticed you, then you have had a good game. This is how I try to referee but sometimes the players will not allow me to do this.

Andy Demetriades, Level 5 Referee 

Respect the Ref

 
Why did you become a referee?
I’ve played the game since I could walk. I love the game. My wife calls me “a proper football man”. When I stopped playing competitively in my mid thirties, I desperately missed it. I initially tried to fill that void by coaching youth football, but I was horrified to find biased Dad’s with whistles refereeing games. The game deserves better, so I decided to do something about it and so I qualified as a referee to give the kids a fair game.

What has been your favourite refereeing experience?
Refereeing the AFA Senior Cup final remains the highlight of my officiating career. It’s an appointment any AFA referee can only have once. Knowing this fact I was determined to enjoy every second of the day.

What is the best thing about being a referee?
The very best thing about being a referee is sharing the pitch with some wonderfully talented players. Watching a game unfold from the best vantage point on the park always gives me a buzz.

What has been your toughest moment in your refereeing career?
I referred an SAL game at the Hive in which one of the players broke his leg. It was a cold December afternoon and the poor lad lay shivering on the pitch for an hour until an ambulance finally got to us. Players safety is ultimately my responsibility and those 60 minutes were really tough.

What has being a referee given you?
Being a referee has given me the opportunity to stay involved in game I love from the bottom of my soul.

Do you see yourself as a role model for others who are looking to get into refereeing?
Nobody sets out to be a role model, but if my passion for the game and for refereeing inspires others to take up the whistle, then the game wins. 

What are your top three tips for being a referee?
My top three tips would be
(1) Watch other referees as often as you can, take one thing they do well and incorporate it into you game.
(2) Be organised off the pitch with your admin
(3) Always referee the game, not the occasion.

If you could tell players, officials and spectators one thing, what would it be?
Walk a mile in my shoes before bestowing your pearls of wisdom.