Ipswich help young referees to progress

IPSWICH Town are pioneering a scheme to help more referees progress in the game.A referees' academy has been set up based at the Blues training ground in Playford Road, which majors on helping 14 to 18-year-olds through what can be a traumatic start to their refereeing careers.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town are pioneering a scheme to help more referees progress in the game.

A referees' academy has been set up based at the Blues training ground in Playford Road, which majors on helping 14 to 18-year-olds through what can be a traumatic start to their refereeing careers.

Trevor Pollard, who was a referee for 24 years before hanging up his whistle three years ago, is chief coach and he has nine lads in a development group plus 18 in the academy.


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Since the scheme started three years ago just three have dropped out, and Trevor said the objective is to ensure as many referees as possible reach the height of their abilities.

“Of the current crop there are three or four who can reach a high level,” he said.

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It was not that many years ago when new officials were thrown into the deep end handling games unaided within hours of passing the qualifying examination.

Only the very best were sure to get through this intimidating grounding with far too many falling by the wayside.

Youngsters now have a chance to join the academy scheme and the early-years protection this brings.

And it couldn't be done without Ipswich Town, who give their full backing.

“Normally there are three youth matches at Playford Road every Sunday,” added Trevor.

“Ipswich Town ensure that parents keep their feelings to themselves and coaches like myself give instructions during a game as a club coach would to his players.

“Once we stopped a game to correct an error, and this was accepted by Ipswich Town and their opponents.

“On another occasion we put on a level three experienced referee to run into the right areas. A young referee remained in charge and followed his 'helper' around to learn where to be to make the best decisions.

“Cards are banned with coaches from both sides taking off any player that may overstep the mark.”

This protection from verbal abuse and help in the early stages is sure to improve referee numbers although far too many are still leaving the game because of the treatment they can receive in adult football.

Suffolk FA chief executive Martin Head is all for the scheme and says that it received national acclaim.

He added: “I am proud of what we have achieved in this field. It is a joint effort between ourselves and Ipswich Town and goes a long way to ensuring young referees reach the level their ability warrants.”

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