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Refereeing rescue bid

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:24 05 July 2010

Referee poster

Referee poster

Mark Boggis

A MASSIVE growth in grassroots football across the country has intensified the need to recruit more referees nationally - and in Lowestoft and north Suffolk this requirement is even more apparent.

Referee poster

A MASSIVE growth in grassroots football across the country has intensified the need to recruit more referees nationally - and in Lowestoft and north Suffolk this requirement is even more apparent.

Stark figures released this week to The Journal worryingly show that within the next five years, the Lowestoft and District Referees Association “expect to lose in excess of 50pc” of their total number of referees.

In an effort to reverse this trend, and recruit more officials into the game, a new course and campaign is being launched by the association.

With the aim of attracting 50 new referees into local football within the next 18 months, a top-class course in super surroundings will commence next week and a campaign to “Respect The Referee - ZERO ABUSE” has been mentioned to the town's leading two football teams - Lowestoft and Kirkley and Pakefield FC.

As the vice chairman of the Lowestoft and District Referees Association, a registered Football Association training officer and local league's referee, Barry Ereira is heading up the course and campaign.

“The Lowestoft and District Referees Association currently has 36 members of which approximately 80pc are active referees, the remainder being retired referees and assessors,” he told The Journal.

“We appoint on average 25 to 30 officials to matches on a Saturday and 15-18 officials on a Sunday, however we could easily appoint many more should we have the referees to cover.

“Our Appointments Officer, Richard May, through usually begging and pleading with referees - some of whom are carrying injuries, manages an above 90pc success rate in appointments,” Ereira said.

“However, we regularly return unfilled appointments from other leagues, due to the lack of referees.”

With the recruitment drive underway, a new course will be held at the Aspire Centre (on the ground of Denes High School) from next Wednesday.

Starting at 7pm the course lasts for four weeks and will be held two evenings per week. With the minimum age being 14, the upper age is unlimited.

The course costs £77 for 16+, which includes the mandatory CRB check and Child Protection Course, and includes registration fee of £15, and of this £30 is refundable upon completion of six 11-a-side games.

For youngsters aged 14-16, it costs £45 and includes the registration fee of £15, of which £10 is refundable upon completion of six 11-a-side games

“Potential referees are now being taught how to manage players, match play situations, how to read players body language, how to diffuse situations, how to man manage people as well as learning to deal with outside influences,” Ereira said.

The new course is more detailed than ever before, mainly to take into account the changes in football itself.

With a “thriving Referee Academy,” having been established in Ipswich, headed by Trevor Pollard (ex Football League) and Simon Long - a young referee recently appointed to the Football League - here the most promising young referees are recommended to by the various referee association's throughout the county.

“We currently have three candidates there, the most experienced being 18-year-old Jonathon Block, who with the right leadership, guidance and self discipline/ commitment could be heading for much higher things,” Ereira said.

“The other candidates - Ashley Woof and Nathan Canns Jenner - should also see their referee careers develop through the academy.”

“To all clubs - without a referee, you have no match - that day may not be too far in the distance unless together we change the face of local football now!”

w To find out more details about the course, telephone Barry Ereira on 07900 412883 or e-mail: barryereira@aol.com or telephone Lee Garrod on 07775 515309.

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