Visit to Southend Referees Society: a 2018 highlight

Visiting the Southend Referees Society was one of the best refereeing experience in 2018. It was great to meet their chairman Jamie Pope and I hope he’ll get his RA to the next level in 2019 with more and more guests showing up at the events.

Southend Referees Society chairman Jamie Pope and me

And it all started with a direct message on Twitter. “Would you consider visiting us to do a presentation?” It’s a message I receive right after the 2017-2018 season. A day on which Germany got beaten by the South Korean team and I’m relaxing in a bar in Scotland during my holidays. How serious would that be? A question that goes through my mind.

When back home in The Netherlands I reply to this message, because it seems nice. Then I realise how enthusiastic Jamie Pope, the Southend Referees Society chairman, is. He follows my blog and knows I recently graduated as referee instructor. He’s a young man in his thirties who wants to stand out and make something from his RA. A young chairman, a job usually fulfilled by older (former) refs.  

Pope recognizes the problem we also face in The Netherlands. Members don’t attend referee meetings, because they think it’s not interesting. In a year he doubles the attendees of the meetings and he wants to grow. That’s why he invites guest speakers like me or Lukas, the Referee Development Officer from the Essex FA. “People want to hear something new and different”, he says.

Trip to Southend Referees Society

And that’s why I go to the train station on that early morning in October. On the way to Southend with mrs. DutchReferee – we booked two extra nights ourself in London. I really look forward to this, but their seems to be a little problem. Fog. The skies clear up and we leave Amsterdam. We try to land twice, but it’s too cloudy. With a stop in Birmingham and a four hour delay we arrive in Southend, which is still on time for the meeting.

I really like the enthusiasm of the English refs. They are very interested in the differences between refereeing in England and The Netherlands. They think their fee is low … until they hear what Dutch referees earn. Another big difference is that local RA’s flourish by meetings like this, but they don’t offer the opportunity for fitness training. In The Netherlands refs can train at our RA (called COVS) once or twice per week.

Because weekly training sessions won’t bring in new visitors, Pope goes online. Social media are important for him to attract new people. It works as more people see what their RA is doing and people get interested.

Work together with the county FA

The network with the county FA is also important, like visits from the Essex FA to their meetings. The Len Forge Center, where they have their meetings, is also available for LOTG tests refs have to do for their courses. Pope sees opportunities for the Southend Referees Society. And I really hope that it will grow a lot in 2019.

Selfie with EPL referee Paul Tierney

Me and Paul Tierney at Craven Cottage

My weekend trip in London finishes with Fulham vs Arsenal at Craven Cottage. Of course I’ll take a selfie with referee Paul Tierney when he’s doing his warming-up with ihs team. when I’m back in Holland there’s a new message from Southend in my Twitter inbox. One of the attendees replies. He is very happy that he joined the session and has now set goals for himself. I’m pleased I’ve helped and inspired someone already by talking there.

In the meantime I’ll keep checking my Twitter inbox for news. For me this trip was a great way to inspire other referees and who knows if there will be another request from an English RA in my inbox.

Plans for 2019

I’ll keep an eye out. And of course I’ll be there in 2019 as well with lots of stories on my referee website. You’ll see more video’s on YouTube.com/DutchReferee, I’ll try to share more fitness tips, starting with the advice for your winter break. And of course you can share your ideas as well, just let me know via the form below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.