With the season underway, it's time to shine the light on another Kent referee. With a passion for the game and a keen eye for fair play, Mitchell plays a pivotal figure in ensuring the integrity of the beautiful game that we all adore. So, let's blow the whistle and kick off this conversation.
It's great to meet you, Mitchell. Please tell us a little about yourself.
"Growing up, I've always been a football fanatic, and as a kid, it was a dream to be part of a sport I absolutely love. Football has been my life. I have a very big, supportive family, and I have the most amazing friends who support everything I do. I currently work in the police force, Kent Police. Training at Maidstone Policing College has never been something I thought of doing, but since I worked for a year in the prison service, I knew I would love working in the community. Having my refereeing alongside my current job is absolutely great; it still gives me great flexibility."
Why did you decide to become a referee?
"I started refereeing because I love football. I used to be a goalkeeper, and I knew it was too late to progress in playing, so refereeing felt like a natural fit, and I'm so passionate about progressing. Since my first game, I've had the buzz for it. It is a dream to get to at least level 2b."
Can you tell us about your experience as a Kent FA Match Official?
"I've learned how supportive the Kent FA is. The communication is absolutely fantastic; if I need to turn to someone within Kent FA, I know I'll get a response, and I know they are there if I need to turn to them. You get given a Match Day Coach to support your progress, which is absolutely fantastic. They're your Mentor, and it's great I can turn to them to support my progression."
What have been the highlights of your officiating career so far?
"I have to say my highlights are my promotion to level 6 and now going to my level 5 for the end of the season. It's just a dream for me to keep progressing but to keep learning. I've also been given a Kent Youth League Final and also Semi-Final this year, which I'm proud to be able to do."
What do you enjoy about refereeing?
"It's a rewarding experience for me. It's not just about enforcing the laws of the game; it's about communicating to players and clubs and knowing that without a referee, there's no game. It's a great feeling to be a part of the game and to ensure the game is being played safely and fairly, and in great spirit. It's also helped me remain calm in stressful situations, which is really good."
What difficulties/obstacles have you experienced as a referee?
"I had a setback with a poor match day coach, and it could easily knock someone's confidence and put them off, thinking that they're not good enough. But it showed me to not drop my head and to remain confident that I'm still learning and keen to develop. It's challenging to keep your head up, but you have to if you are so passionate about refereeing."
If you could give potential new referees some advice, what would it be?
"Just do it. Whether you are younger or older, it's nerve-wracking at first, but once you do a couple of games, you might think differently. Do something to be a part of football. It's a great way to understand the game a lot more!"
Thank you, Mitchell, and all the best for the rest of the season!
If you have ever considered becoming a referee, now is the time to take that step with our Get into Refereeing workshops. So, whether you are a seasoned player, a devoted fan, or simply someone who wants to contribute to the community, becoming a referee is the perfect opportunity to make a difference on the pitch. You can find more information here.