Meet 15-year-old Charlie. Charlie is passionate about the beautiful game as both a player and referee. A highlight within his footballing career so far is when Charlie captained his school football team to the last 16 of The National School Cup in Year 10. Unfortunately, the team didn't make it past the last 16, but Charlie and his team were very proud of the result.
So, what encouraged Charlie to take up the whistle? It's simple, he wanted to see the game from a different perspective.
"Every match needs a referee, and I wanted to feel what it was like to be the person that influences the game the most. I also have a very good understanding of the rules of the game. Like most people who follow football, I sometimes moan at referees on the television, so I wanted to try my hand to see if I can become a decent referee and make the right decisions!".
People become referees for different reasons - to help their child's team, perhaps they can no longer play due to injury, or they just want to understand the laws of the game better. But why does Charlie, a U18-year-old Kent referee, enjoy officiating so much? "I officiate because I like to see a football match run smoothly, letting the game flow without too much interruption from anyone but the players themselves. Alongside my passion for refereeing, I also get paid for it - that's a bonus! I also enjoy seeing the upcoming generations of footballers coming through. Last season, I was the main referee for Folkestone Invicta U7s and seeing them try their hardest and improve each week was great."
As a young referee, you face many challenges as you start your officiating journey, and it has been no different for Charlie. "I think the fear of not getting a decision right is always there for every referee. This is something I have had to try and control throughout my journey so far. But the main thing you have to remember is that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and we're all human. Another challenge I have faced is negative comments from the sidelines, which I have to try and put up with and not take personally. Most people would say they just blank out the hate or angry parents and spectators. Still, sometimes, it can be useful to help you improve as an official. But, when there's a conflict involving others, I try to act on the situation as quickly as possible by resolving any tension between them. I try to consider both sides when making decisions."
Although Charlie is relatively new to refereeing, he has already enjoyed some impressive highlights, such as refereeing the Hawkinge tournament and recently being nominated and winning the Colin Boswell Young Referee of The Year award this September.
So, what advice would Charlie give to others considering taking up the whistle?
"I would say that you have to have a passion for football; otherwise, it may not be enjoyable, which is what it's all about. Also, you have to believe in fair play in football to justify your decisions."
Keep up the great work Charlie. We look forward to supporting your refereeing journey.
If you are interested in becoming a referee, book onto our Get Into Refereeing workshops.
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