With 232 new referees trained courtesy of 10 Basic Referee Courses and two Mini- Soccer Courses hosted by the Kent FA, this year has further established the many different avenues for officials of varying abilities and ambitions to access support and development opportunities.
Amongst the number of referees entering the game at grassroots level, at the elite level Kent FA has had a representative, Hawkar Ahmed, at an International Futsal Competition. Besides this, Kent Senior Cup final referee, Constantine Hatzidakis, is now a Premier League assistant along with 12 further Colleagues working within the Football League and Conference National Competitions.
A re-shuffle of the Referee Development structure has created tailored services, specific to the needs and wants of a growing and differing workforce of Match Officials. The Referee Development Team has been created to help progress refereeing development, as well as with strategic and operational objectives, through effective mentoring, assessing, coaching and tutoring. The RDT is responsible for assisting the Referee Development Officer and Referee Development Workforce (RDW), in recruiting, retaining and developing all Referees.
Alongside the Kent FA’s extremely successful Referee Academy, which supports the development of 34 young and enthusiastic Match Officials, the Referee Development Group helps support the development of first year Level 4 Referees and aspiring Level 4 Referees. Plans are also in place to develop a Female Referee’s Support Group, with the first event being held in January 2015, with a FIFA Women’s Assistant Referee in attendance.
Kent Match Officials have been sent on several development trips in 2014; 3 female Referees have been given the chance to attend the Women's Development Event at Warwick University, 3 male referees sent to the Young Referee Development Programme event at Staverton, as well as four Match Officials, and a Referee Coach, being given the opportunity to officiate at the Iber Cup in Portugal.
Close working relationships with Leagues have also been formed, notably with the East Kent Youth Football League, Kent Girls & Ladies Football League, Medway Messenger Youth Football League and the North Kent Youth Football League. This has helped provide a platform for over 232 Level 9 Trainee Referees to progress and develop, working towards completing their Referee Course. Working relationships have also been created with Leagues within the National League System; the Southern Counties East Football League and Kent Invicta League helped form an encouraging ‘Pool of Match Officials’ for the 2014/2015 season, which is currently in early stages of greater progression ideas for the 2015/2016 season.
These experiences play a fundamental role in building aspirations and inspiring officials to progress through the promotion pathway, which 64 officials have done in 2014.
The introduction of the Whole Game System has also impacted upon a busy year for Match Officials, with 5,082 discipline cases submitted through the online system.
Referee Development Officer, Nick Dunn, reflected on an eventful 2014: “This has been a fantastic year for referee development and progression, most probably one of the County’s most successful. There have been many success stories, and I would like to congratulate every single Official who has achieved, but more importantly, those who help cover games week in, week out, at the local level. Our aim, moving forward, is to now ensure that every single game of football is covered with a registered referee, as well as sustain the high level of development offered. We are a forward thinking County FA, with a fantastic Referee Development Team, committed to developing every level of Referee, which has ultimately been recognised”