CEO Blog

CEO Blog 16-17

Issue 23

This week features supporting Referees, the role of Captains and our dedicated Club Welfare Officers

Supporting Referees is everyone’s responsibility

Ryan Hampson, a Manchester based referee, is leading the call for grassroots referees to strike this weekend.I am pleased that the issues of supporting referees and addressing poor behavior are being given national attention. We have had media requests over the last 24 hours and Colin Hills, our Referees’ Officer, and I have been on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

It is important that we talk about these issues, but a referee strike is not the answer. There are 2 issues that Ryan is raising: Is abuse to referees acceptable, and secondly is the game doing enough to support referees if they are abused? The answer to the first question is no. Abuse to referees of any kind is not acceptable.

In terms of support for referees, in Cambridgeshire we are well placed to be able to provide the support needed. As a small county, we know our referees and we know our clubs, so we can have a referee focused approach when the task of appointing referees is carried out each week. We can look at the game to ensure it is appropriate for the referee, depending on his or her experience and development needs.

This is just as important as ongoing training to develop the skills of game and people management, which are both challenging and take time. At times, the behavior of individuals on and off the field is unacceptable, and if this happens, the referee has a key role to play in reporting this to the County FA. Action can then be taken through either disciplinary or respect sanctions. There are clear processes and policies set out, but issues need to be reported.

Fortunately we haven’t had an assault on a referee in the way Ryan describes for many years. If a referee does have an issue during a game, we’ll be straight on the phone to provide the support needed. Colin Hills and Chris Abbott at Cambs FA are brilliant at this, and judging from the feedback from referees in a recent survey, they really value that support.

The game does need to eradicate incidents of abuse of all types, so I hope that the profile of Ryan’s campaign will make everyone think about their own behavior to ensure that the game is an enjoyable experience for everyone- including the referee.

BBC Sport - Referee article screenshot

Leading on the pitch 

IFAB, the law making body for world football, has announced plans to give more responsibility for Captains.

I’m all for this, as the game needs strong leadership on the field to help ensure the game is played in the right way. This isn’t new, as the Respect programme, launched in 2008, did include provision for referees to work with captains to address poor behaviour. In light of the story of abuse to referees, a reminder of this and embedding in the Laws of the Game would certainly help.

WOW - twitter screenshot

Volunteers at the heart of the game

It’s been a busy week for us at Cambs FA in supporting our volunteers. In addition to our referee support and appointments, we held a support evening for our Club Welfare Officers (CWOs) on Thursday.

The CWOs have done a great job to make sure all U18 teams- all 650 of them- have a named Coach who has a Criminal Record Check and attended a Safeguarding Children Workshop. This compliance work is vital, but it is also the commitment to raising standards each week by supporting clubs to develop best practice, which underpins the Charter Standard programme, and also dealing with poor practice when it arises.

Without our dedicated CWOs, the experience of our young players would not be as positive, so we are very grateful of the role that they play each week.

Until next week.