Becoming a football referee was something that interested me for a long time. I had been intrigued about how officials come to make decisions and often watched them being criticised for their performance during a match and wondering whether it was totally justified!
Being a football referee offers a unique challenge to individuals who gradually learn more about themselves as they progress. For example, being able to manage 22 players on a park is not something many would consider to be an easy task. Referees, though, do this every week, and it almost becomes a natural part of our personalities. We learn how to deal with confrontational situations and are often the calmest people on the field of play.
The psychological strains on a referee are just as vast as the physical ones. Whilst having to maintain an extremely high level of fitness to cope with the demands of play, we also have to be totally focussed throughout the ninety minutes and concentrate on every aspect of the game. This is where our match preparation becomes known. Scottish referees benefit from a range of assistance from the Scottish Football Association’s referee department including training programmes to improve our physical performance during matches. Some people may consider refereeing to be a lonely task, however many would be surprised at the assistance and support on offer.
Being a referee has opened up some fantastic opportunities for me. I have had the opportunity to officiate at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park which was a fantastic experience, and in the past few seasons I have been included in the SFA referee academy.
As a current student, the financial incentives of refereeing are excellent! Referees can do up to two or three matches in a weekend and earn a good amount for their work. Even though being a football referee is not all about money, it does come in handy and I’m sure many students would agree that any extra income that is available is an avenue worth exploring.
For anyone who is considering refereeing as a hobby or career, I would urge them to go for it. The opportunities out there are unimaginable; if you have the dedication and commitment to progress then you will be backed to help you meet your goals. For me, it has been a fantastic career opportunity that I simply would not have had, had I continued to play. Refereeing is just as fun and enjoyable as playing.