"Please don't judge me like a Premier League ref"

A 14-year-old referee wrote a letter to Grassroots Football that everyone in the game should read

Young referee

Would you treat me like this if I refereed wearing my school uniform instead of a referee uniform?

Grassroots has given me the platform to speak anonymously so please listen to what I have to say.

To “THAT” coach who questioned every single decision I made until I doubted my own decisions.

To “THAT” dad who told his child: “It’s pointless son, he’s not going to give you anything”.

To “THAT” spectator who is always one yard on the pitch despite repeatedly being told: “Please can you get off the pitch”.

To “THAT” parent who won’t move so the kids can take a throw-in or a corner.

To “THAT” coach who does nothing when others abuse me.

To “THAT” parent who does nothing when others abuse me.

To “THAT” spectator who does nothing when others abuse me.

Please remember that I am learning how to be a referee. Please remember that I am a school child also but, most importantly, please remember without a referee you have no game.

Please accept that there will be decisions I get wrong, some of these decisions might even be against you, but don’t over-analyse these decisions and think it’s a huge conspiracy I have against your team or club. I don’t even know you.

Please don’t judge me like a Premier League referee who has had years of experience, two professional linesmen, a fourth official, goal-line technology and cameras covering the whole pitch… and still gets decisions wrong!

GRF logoI love this game and I want your son or daughter to love this game.

Respect from all referees everywhere.

This message was originally published by grf-football.co.uk and is reproduced with their permission.

This article appeared in The Clubhouse – the monthly newsletter from Club Website. To get the best grassroots news, offers and competitions straight to your inbox every month, sign up today!

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Dean Thomas on April 21, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Of 28 years of coaching football and 12 years refereeing I have seen some terrible incidents regarding spectators, players and parents. Please remember he is only 14 yrs old and it can be classed as child abuse, you would not have your child shouted at, so why does he had to put up with it. I wish him the best of luck in his career.

  2. Duncan Ward on April 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    The game needs referees, too many matches do not have an independant official to will always make a decision which is right for one side it is part of the game.
    I applaud this article and the hope its impact is felt as we need young referees to take up and learn in safe supported enviroments and most importantly we need a game where Respect is on all sides, Coaches, Captains, Managers, Players, Referees, Spectators and Parents.
    Love the game not hate the officials!

  3. Emms on April 22, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Team managers need to use referees who are impartial and not friends of the players they are refereeing. As this leads to unfair decisions and the oposing team seeing the referee with his arm around his mates shoulder congratulating them on their win. At least do it when the other team are out of sight or better still best not do it at all.

  4. Ryan Francis on April 22, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    I started off as a referee at the age of 14 and had the same problem I have been a referee for 4 years now and I still get the same hassle but what I have learned is the people who are over analysing your decisions are not against you as a person but are actually jealous that you have the courage and commitment to take on that responsibility when they don’t.

    Keep Going and always believe in your ability because all referees across the country are behind you. (Even the pros)

    P.s Hope to partner you in the premier league one day

  5. w grimes on April 24, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I have seen this happen week in week out as I watch my grandson referee, I follow him as much as I can and even spoke to some coaches myself as a referee where is the respect it has gone out of the window rugby referees don’t have to put with it so why should football referees

  6. elliot bones Wood on April 28, 2016 at 9:59 am

    i am a level 3 referee who is hoping to become a pro ref, it is a disgrace that im getting bullied because of my ethnicity. My eyebrows look like the McDonald sign, how do i stop being bullied by the young kids? thank you for your time. i am privileged to be a ref, i love the atmosphere and all the kids i can watch playing and scoring screamers

  7. Ian on May 3, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    The problem is that it never really gets better , even after 26 years of refereeing , We go out there most of the time on our own , due to the fact we love football , teams can`t play with out us but they seem to do their hardest to get us to pack up and do something else . well they wont beat me and to all those young lads and lasses who take up refereeing , stand up and be counted as you are way above those who think they are better than you .

  8. Chris on May 4, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    To all young referee’s I take my hat of to you I’m a ref as well, please remember that every one who is in youth football and stand an side lines have signed the respect code get both manager’s together and tell them this, if you get any abuse, they get one warning then the game is stopped and they move away if not and it carry’s on give the manager a yellow if it carry’s on a second yellow and a red, remember you know the rules and the team’s want to win by any means Don’t give in to them and I look forward to seeing you referee on the tv one day
    All the best to you Young referee’s

  9. Karen on May 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    You don’t have to be young I am a newly qualified ref myself and well over 21. At the end of the day those parents etc couldn’t do what we do. Take no crap after all no one is perfect.

  10. Robbie R on May 16, 2016 at 8:32 am

    We up North in Elgin Scotland are quite active in encouraging young lads to help with refereeing our intermediate games. The club is run by volunteers and are delighted to see young refs out supporting the club. Parents and supporters should be mindful of this and let the lads get on with the job many of you won’t do. It’s easy enough to stand and shout at a ref. You go out and try it and lets see how you get on. Carry on the good work all you young Refs/volunteers.

  11. Neville Furness on May 17, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Very well put and food for thought for many

  12. Rossi on May 18, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Great to see someone so young wanting to be a Referee. It won’t be easy, as no matter how many mistakes players & managers make they are never highlighted nor are they talked about as much as 1 mistake made in a game by a Referee.
    I myself mentored a young woman who started Refereeing in September 2014 and this year young Rachel was selected to be on the FIFA list as an Assistant Referee for 2016.
    Rachel trained in the boys League as the only woman Offical & our first in our 40 year history.
    After we gave Rachel a cup final she got her International call up and things took off.
    Rachel traveled to Georgia to do a woman’s European Championship qualifier and 14 months after taking up Refereeing she acquired her FIFA status.
    I now mentor for VOYPIC I love the challenge it brings and also the challenge my kids games and adult games give me every weekend.
    Keep the FAITH in your own ability, listen and learn from your peers and as your so young I suggest you play a bit of competitive football so as you know more about the game and it’s skills.
    I also suggest you ask at school can you Referee at games sessions as you won’t have to Listen to the sideline complaints.This will give you a no distraction environment where you can build your Confidence.
    Good Luck ⚽️. Love the beautiful game.
    Tommy IFA Referee

  13. Chris Clements on November 28, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Fantastically put – I love this and think it should be spread around football. I will certainly be sending this to all our club coaches and have some signs put up at the Club – copies of this .

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