New approach for Essex referees

PUBLISHED: 16:30 28 November 2014

The Essex FA are staging new courses for referees in 2015

The Essex FA are staging new courses for referees in 2015


Latest news from the Essex FA

The Essex FA’s Referee Development Officer James Lisher is confident a new approach to Basic Referee Courses will greatly enhance the number of quality candidates successfully qualifying, whilst more efficiently introducing officials who are keen to cover local grassroots games.

Traditionally, a range of courses have been added online at and budding referees could register directly onto the date and venue of their choice.

This has been successful, although it meant the Referee Development Team were forced to be reactive rather than proactive as they sometimes only found out the intentions of the candidates on the first day of the course.

Some merely wanted to fulfil the mini-soccer element of the course, others required the qualification for their Duke of Edinburgh Award or GCSEs. While this isn’t a problem, a handful of candidates were unaware that they would be required to go out and actively officiate within their local area in order to complete the course.

From December, the first module of the course has been extracted and will form a more educational ‘Get Into Refereeing’ evening. The aim of presenting Module One separately is to allow candidates to gain a better insight into the world of refereeing whilst also allowing the Referees Department to determine the training needs of the group. From here, the Essex FA can assess whether a course would be appropriate.

“This is a big deal,” said Lisher. “We’re being revolutionary and making a positive change so anyone with an active interest in refereeing can attend more local sessions and receive specific information on the leagues and Referee Societies nearest them which, in turn, means we can be even more supportive to Essex’s leagues. We’ll be producing more confident, experienced and skilled referees.

“We can teach the new officials how to have a real positive impact on football in their locality and the change from theory to practical learning means it’s more than just reciting the laws to the candidates. Now we’ll be reaching previously untapped pockets of Essex, taking courses to the areas of need and focusing our recruitment.”

Under the new system, a new ‘Candidate Interest Form’ has been added to which will be the first point of contact from a prospective new referee. Lisher will then have a clearer idea of the level of demand for referee qualifications from different parts of Essex.

Get Into Refereeing Evenings and Basic Referee Courses can now be more appropriately arranged in areas where there is sufficient demand. They have been constructed to provide local schools and colleges, clubs and leagues with an opportunity to ‘host’ their own Module One, which could then be followed up with the relevant course as required.

One recent example was at Ongar Juniors YFC, who assembled parents and officials who wanted to learn more so Lisher could present to them. This trial evening was one of the first success stories of the new process, and Lisher is now considering staging a full Basic Referee Course at the club.

Chairman Mark Preston described: “Every parent and manager I spoke with thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt something - even those who think they know it all! There was a really positive response to those I asked about attending a referee course, and I think it would be possible to get 12 people to make-up a module in Ongar. We have a lot of keen parents and managers willing to learn.”

There are over 1,600 registered referees in Essex, ranging from those just setting out in the game to individuals who have progressed to the Premier or Football Leagues. The Essex FA support their development, from running courses, gaining promotion and mentoring and assessing them throughout their career. Referees can start from the age of just 14, with specific pathways in place to move through the levels.

Anyone who would like to complete the Candidate Interest Form, can visit For enquiries about staging a Get Into Refereeing Evening, call James Lisher on 01245 393097 or email Further details on refereeing are also shared on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.


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