Dear Players, Club Officials, Parents, Coaches and Supporters,
Would you hurl abuse at one of our youth referees on his or her way to school whilst they are wearing their school uniform?
Would you step in and protect that young referee on the street, if he or she, was abused by an ordinary member of the public?
Would you step in and protect that referee if he or she, was being abused on the pitch by a player, coach, club official, parent, or spectator?
Would you expect or tolerate coaches, parents, or supporters pressurising, lambasting, scolding, or verbally abusing your son or daughter, for missing an open goal, smashing a penalty kick over the crossbar, for lunging into a bad tackle, placing a poor pass, or making a silly mistake that led to the opposing team scoring? Then why would you allow a young referee to receive that same abuse for giving a free kick or a throw-in in favour of a particular team?
As a coach, a parent, or a supporter, would you put your arm around a young player who may have had a bad game and encourage them, ease their pain by lifting their spirits and reassuring that they will get it right next time round? Have you ever thought about doing the same to a young referee?
Why am I asking these questions? It’s quite simple. Our young referees are exactly that, youngsters, children under the age of 18, who are young enough to be your child, your nephew, your niece, your neighbour or family friend. Maybe even your grandchild!
They are children learning their way in the game and as an official.
They are not perfect, none of us are. Human beings make mistakes every day, as do referees. The number of quick decisions a referee needs to make in any match is huge. A young referee’s job is hard enough let alone when players, coaches, parents, or anyone in attendance, piling on the pressure. In some cases, verbally abusing the young referee for a decision he or she has made.
Our young referees need all the help and encouragement they can get. This needs to come from everyone who is watching them or taking part in any match that is being officiated by a young referee.
Any young referee will no doubt make mistakes as they begin their career as an official. They may make the same mistakes again. They are just learning. Learning how to be an official just like your kids learn to play football.
So, I am asking you, whether you are a player, coach, club official, parent or supporter, please help our young referees, support them, encourage them, make them feel appreciated. Support them when they make mistakes. If you witness an incident which you think raises safeguarding concerns don’t just be a bystander. Report it. You can find all the info you need on how to report anything here: https://www.gibraltarfa.com/safeguarding
Please help us nurture the next generation of Gibraltarian match officials.
Gibraltar FA Referee Recruitment Officer.