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Initiative launched for young referees

SUFFOLK FA have formed a new partnership with The Offside Trust to safeguard young referees.

SUFFOLK FA have formed a new partnership with The Offside Trust to safeguard young referees.

The initiative with The Offside Trust, which was founded and is run by survivors of child abuse in sport, is aimed at raising awareness that while young referees are operating in their role as match officials, many of them are also children.

In a survey of Under-18 referees and parents in Suffolk conducted in January 2020, 79.2% of U18 referees stated that they had experienced poor behaviour towards them as the match official.

One referee commented: “I think that there should be less aggressive behaviour from some (very few) adult coaching staff and parents and more consideration given to young referees for their age/inexperience.”

The new initiative will see all Suffolk referees aged under 18 issued with a green armband which will be worn by the referee during matches.

This distinctive band is designed to remind everyone involved in the game that the referee is also a child and subject to The FA’s Safeguarding legislation, as well as raising awareness of The Offside Trust’s work to safeguard young people in sport.

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Suffolk FA Referee Development Officer Ian Atkins said: “We are delighted to be launching this initiative in partnership with The Offside Trust.

“While the majority of those involved within the game are respectful of match officials, there exists a small minority who do not always behave in an appropriate way.

“In the last three seasons as part of their initial training, nine out of ten referees in Suffolk have received mentoring support in their early fixtures.

“This is in addition to the development opportunities which are currently seeing officials progress from Youth in to open age football.

“It is not okay for any participant to show abuse towards any referee, irrespective of their age within the game, however we hope that by raising the awareness of our U18 referees by this green armband initiative, that those who are younger and continuing to develop can do so in a positive environment.

“Referees which include within any disciplinary reports that they were wearing their green armband during the game may see this considered by any disciplinary commission as an aggravating factor during sanctioning of any participants.”

Alan Arber, Ambassador for The Offside Trust said: “We are really pleased to be working with Suffolk FA and are looking at various initiatives to continue to raise awareness and Safeguard young children in sport.”

All referees registered for the 2020-21 season who are aged U18 in Suffolk will receive their green armband in the post, ready to wear in their future matches.

For more information on The Offside Trust, please click here

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