As we begin a new season, we want to highlight some of our incredible referees in Kent. So today we delve deep into the world of officiating where passion meets precision on the pitch. Join us as we explore the challenges, triumphs, and journey Grant Steele, a level 5 referee who plays a crucial role in the beautiful game. So, let's blow the whistle and kick off this conversation.
Nice to meet you, Grant. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
“I am 44, married with two daughters aged 8 and 13. I have been a Police officer for 21 years and am currently a Sergeant with Kent Police on the Roads Policing Unit. “
Why did you decide to become a referee?
“I spent many years playing in the Kent County League and the old Kent League for several different clubs in Kent. I stopped playing regularly when I was around 38 due to work and family commitments plus constantly picking up niggling injuries, however having been out of the game for a few years I missed it. Not wishing to commit to coaching or managing, a colleague of mine suggested taking up refereeing. With my background in playing, decision-making, and dealing with people in my day job it was thought I may be well suited. At first, I was unsure, due to the fact I had given referees so much stick during my playing days. However, I really enjoyed the course and since being qualified I have not regretted my decision to get back into the game in the form of officiating.”
How long have you been officiating?
“I have just finished my second full season and was recently successful in gaining my Level 5.”
Can you tell us about your experience as a Kent FA Match Official?
"I only have positive things to say about it. There has been plenty of support and encouragement since I started. The referee secretaries, development officers, and, more recently, the match day coaches have been fantastic. The move from observers to match-day mentors has been a great idea. Far more supportive and personal. I have built a good relationship with my mentor, and we frequently discuss things."
What have been the highlights of your officiating career so far?
"This season, I was fortunate enough to have been chosen to referee three cup finals, with the most significant being the Kent Cup Veterans Final played at Maidstone United FC. This meant a lot to me as I recognised how prestigious this final is, having played in three of these myself as a player, with the last one being in 2019."
What do you enjoy about refereeing?
“Being back in the game, being able to relate to players, understanding the passion of the game, but also being able to challenge myself to make the right decision in sometimes challenging situations.”
What difficulties/obstacles have you experienced as a referee?
“To date, I haven’t really come across any. I am sure I will the higher I go up the levels though.”
If you could give potential new referees some advice, what would it be?
“Firstly, you must enjoy it and have faith and confidence in your decision-making. Everyone makes mistakes at times; it is all part of learning. Do not let any mistakes get you down or dent your confidence; draw from them to make you a more competent referee. Feel free to ask questions, no matter how small they may be. There is every chance others have asked the same question before or are thinking the same but too shy to ask. You have an opportunity to be a crucial part of making the game enjoyable for all, and when players come up and thank you for the good job you have done after the game, it is a nice feeling to know you have had such a positive influence on the game.”
We hope you enjoyed this interview, and we would like to thank Grant and all our referees for their passion and dedication to the game.
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.
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