Worcestershire FA is delighted to announce a new campaign to support under 18 referees in the early stages of their careers.
As of the 2019/20 season, all referees in Worcestershire under the age of 18 will be wearing fluorescent yellow socks. The #SeeTheSocks initiative is aiming to support and develop youth referees in a positive environment.
Worcestershire loses around 80 referees each year with over 20% stating that “poor player/club behaviour” was the cause for not re-registering. Nationally, just 10-15% of referees continue to officiate after their first year. This needs to change.
It is often overlooked that youth referees are new to officiating and still learning. The purpose of #SeeTheSocks is to remind everyone that not only is the referee still learning and developing their refereeing ability, but that they are also a minor under the age of 18 and should be treated with the same care and safeguarding protocols that apply to youth players and coaches.
With many referees in the county under the age of 18, this means they are still subject to children’s safeguarding legislation, and should therefore be protected, encouraged, and treated with the utmost respect.
Everyone – including players, coaches, spectators, and officials – have a duty to ensure that safeguarding protocols are adhered to.
Ollie Williams, Worcestershire FA Referee Development Manager, said: “More than a quarter of our registered referees in Worcestershire are under the age of 18. It is vitally important that they are supported and allowed to do their job so that we can retain them.
“The idea of the fluorescent socks is to help identify referees who are minors. We must understand that referees will make mistakes just like the young players they are refereeing – this is all part of their development and I would ask that managers, coaches, parents and spectators respect this. If anyone has an issue with a young referee, they should contact the County FA direct and not undertake any discussions with the referee.
“The socks will hopefully act as a trigger to players, coaches and spectators not to make the remark that may be in their head as they understand the likely safeguarding connotations of doing so.”
There will also be referees wearing a green shirt as part of the #SeeTheShirt campaign. These referees are trainees who are likely to be under the age of 18.
In the unlikely event of a kit clash with outfield players, common sense should be adopted, and the referee could wear a standard black shirt. If a clash occurs with a goalkeeper shirt, the referee should still use their green shirt within grassroots football and would not be required to change.
Nichola Trigg, Worcestershire FA Chief Executive Officer, added: “Safeguarding in football is paramount. It is hugely important that referees also enjoy the role they play in ensuring football is a great experience for everyone. By introducing these new initiatives, we are hoping to remind others that referees should be treated with respect and for those referees under 18 they are entitled to the same safeguarding protection as other under 18s who may play or coach.”
For more information about the #SeeTheSocks and #SeeTheShirt campaigns, or for any queries regarding refereeing in Worcestershire, please contact Worcestershire FA’s Referee Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To follow the progress of #SeeTheSocks and #SeeTheShirt, and for updates about refereeing in the county via Twitter, follow: @WFAReferees