Referees officiate games between Ipswich Town and other professional clubs' Academies on a Sunday morning at Ipswich Town’s training ground in Playford Road, Ipswich. The games range from under-9s through to under-14s. At under-13 and 14 level the officials work in teams of three and at the younger age groups officiate on their own. The Academy forms part of the National Referee Development Programme at Stage 3 level.
A coach will work with the referees on a one-to-one basis, providing practical advice and tips to develop their skills at breaks in the game. By giving each referee a small point to think about at the end of each period allows them to gradually build their skills through to the end of the game. The following week, referees receive a written summary of the points discussed.
We work with the referees to help them develop and progress through the age groups. Once they have 'outgrown' the Academy there is further support available to move onto under-15s games at Ipswich Town’s Academy, the Thurlow Nunn Youth League and ultimately into open age football on the Thurlow Nunn Reserve League.
When referees aren’t officiating themselves, referees are always welcome to attend the Academy and watch their colleagues officiate with the coaches.
We also offer a number of off-field (both classroom and practical based) training sessions to help with the referees' development. Our referees have spent time with some of the top referees on the Premier League, including Howard Webb and Steve Bennett, learning about various aspects of refereeing.
We also offer something called 'Experience the Big Time' whereby a small group of Academy Referees attend an Ipswich Town home game with one of the coaches. They meet the match officials before the game and on occasions listen to the pre-match instructions. The Academy referees then watch the game and note down points to discuss with the match officials afterwards. After the game the Academy referees then go down to the changing room and have the opportunity to provide their own feedback on the match officials' performance and discuss incidents from the game.
In return, we expect the referees to be regularly available to accept appointments and to attend training events offered. For games at the Academy we also expect officials to arrive for the games an hour before kick off, with clean kit and boots.
Anyone can join the Referees Academy at any point during the season, by simply e-mailing Colin Hills, Suffolk FA referee development manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Referees' Academy please click here