The story of a Swiss football player who had to choose between selling hot dogs or officiating children’s matches. He chose the latter and now is Adrien Jaccottet an international football referee.
First, I’d like to congratulate you with your promotion to the second group of Uefa’s international list. How does that feel?
“Thank you very much. I am of course very pleased to be promoted. It is a wonderful feeling and a great reward for my dedicated and hard work these past few years.”
How did you become a referee? (and why)
“I used to play for a football club as a boy. They used to organise a youth tournament lasting two days every year. As a member of the club, young players got to play on one of these two days whilst helping on the second. The jobs ranged from selling hot dogs, to helping with the tournament’s organisation or acting as a referee in children’s football matches. I chose the latter and it proved to be a great choice. I really enjoyed refereeing and as such, decided to attend the official refereeing course and started officiating. At that time, I never thought my career would evolve the way it has…”
I heared you were a singer in a band, but you quit. Was it difficult to give up your hobby? And how do you combine refereeing with your job as lawyer?
“Yes, indeed. I used to sing in an a cappella group. But it became quite difficult to combine these hobbies, since they were both focused on the weekends, required extensive planning (concerts and matches) and practising. Therefore, I had to make a choice, which was very hard indeed. But whilst music until then had always been a big part of my life, refereeing was a new challenge and I wanted to try something new. That’s why I decided to focus on refereeing. And I have never looked back.”
“Combining refereeing with your job and your private life isn’t always easy. That was one of the major challenges I faced last year. I finally quit my job as an attorney and joined the legal department of a private bank where I currently work 12 hours per week. This gives me more time and flexibility to dedicate to my training sessions, to officiate on national and international level, whilst still being able to spend quality time with my family.”
What do you expect this year as referee now you’re in a higher group?
“My philosophy has always been to focus on the next match I’m refereeing. I believe that it is important to keep working hard and to enjoy the matches you get allocated. Of course though, being a referee in a higher group leads to more demanding matches and constantly growing expectations. Hence, it is important to be ready for these challenges.”What are your goals in refereeing?
“I always distinguish between goals and dreams. As I said, my focus needs to be on the next match, aiming to give my best. Speaking about the evolution of my career, I have to be realistic: it becomes harder and harder to reach the top, as the level of elite referees is amazingly high. But I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to be part of the refereeing elite, and that is where dreams come into it: to enter the field of play and to hear the Champions League anthem being played has to be a fantastic experience…”
How are you going to achieve them?
“Meeting the needs of top class refereeing is very demanding. Of course, one of its aspects is the physical preparation. You need to plan your training sessions, train frequently and in accordance with the specific refereeing requirements. It is not enough, to be able to run around for 90 minutes. In Switzerland, as in almost every European country, we have a coach who prepares training schedules for the referees. I complement those schedules with exercises from the UEFA fitness expert, as well as with my own training experience.”
“But physical preparation is not the only key to success of course. We are supported by referee coaches and have very good educational tools, such as our national e-learning tool “Referee Channel”, where we discuss situations in general and analyse our own matches. Additionally, preparing for various situations can be done by studying other educational tools, such as the UEFA RAP (Referee Assistance Programme) DVD and analysing plenty of interesting match situations. Finally, self-analysis and self-criticism are crucial to continually improve my skills. The day you stop being eager to learn and to improve is the day you start getting worse. And at the end of the day, a little bit of luck is also needed. Sometimes unexpected situations can hardly be judged; we are human beings and make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them.”
Do you have an advice for (young) referees to become (and keep) a good referee?
“Always work hard, believe in your qualities but keep trying to become even better. Enjoy refereeing and be positive about it, since it is a wonderful activity.”