What experience have you built up?
Throughout my time as a referee and coach the ability to deal with people effectively is the biggest skill that comes to mind, the confidence it takes as a 14 year old referee to go and initially introduce yourself to a grown adult, some nice, some not so nice really helps you to mature and builds your confidence. Moving into my later years as a referee, still being young and effectively being the person in control with responsibility faces it challenges but builds you as a person. From a coaching perspective coaching children from multiple different backgrounds, abilities, circumstances and gender has its challenges but makes you a lot more understanding of others circumstances and nothing is as simple as it may first seem. Football isn’t just a sport to some it quite literally is the escape so making that environment the best place possible really starts to open your eyes to how some people perceive football.
What success have you achieved?
I think the first success from which it all stems from is the progression up the refereeing ladder going up level by level from an inexperienced level 7 to my current level of working towards promotion to level 4. As a result of my refereeing ability I have had the fortunes of being part of County CORE as well as National CORE which is designed to further our referee development. Along with this I have also been awarded with the FA Rising Star award in 2019 which was an honour and recognition of my refereeing ability.
From a coaching side the biggest achievement is setting up the first ever girls' programme in Ely which is an astronomical achievement for all involved. From 10 girls 18 months ago to knocking on the door of 50 with the light at the end of the tunnel in sight. It’s taught me so much from parent relations, admin, emails, the delivery and the organisation which it has taken to get to this stage is just astronomical but that end goal will be an amazing achievement for all involved. As part of this work I was nominated for an Ely Hero Award in the sporting sector once again it was an honour as although I had a key part to play there’s more than just me to the coaching of the girls.
Have you faced challenges faced along the way?
Like anything there’s challenges such as difficult games, parents, players and situations sometimes you don’t want to be in but accidentally end up being in. I think abuse from being a ref is the biggest reoccurring challenge I have faced, both starting out as a 14/15 year old to that first step into men’s football. It’s all a big challenge but ultimately the skill set you get as a result of this on the whole, is worth it.
Has there been opportunity for you to progress?
As a result of the refereeing work I do, Ely City Crusaders and being at Norwich RDP has given me so many different opportunities to progress in different ways and taught me many different things. With coaching at a company and then a grassroots setup the things you can implement from your work either way really helps as a coach. The CPD events I’ve had access to, the people I’ve been fortunate enough to speak and work with have all been fantastic and all of which at Cambs FA for my refereeing, Ely City Crusaders allowing me to take lead in a monumental task and Norwich RDP for the opportunities and teaching they have provided have all moulded me into the person I am today.
Do you feel you have helped remove any barriers?
I think the main barrier I consider myself to break down is what a young person can do. In a world where young people are perceived not to be how they were 30+ years ago sometimes being younger and in a larger position of responsibility can be difficult for those of which operating under them so breaking that barrier down has been difficult but I wouldn’t change anything. If I could say one thing to younger people it would be go out and volunteer at a grassroots team as soon as you feel comfortable in any area you want to whether that be refereeing, coaching, admin, tuck shop, marketing, media, groundsman, photographer the list goes on and on, offer your help, try to learn and most of the time people are going to take you on and give you that opportunity to help and learn.