New Respect initiative launched to support young referees in Staffordshire
Staffordshire FA launched its brand-new yellow armband Respect initiative during half time of Stoke City’s annual Respect fixture against Nottingham Forest on Saturday 2 March.
Aimed at supporting young match officials in Staffordshire, the new initiative will see yellow armbands introduced for all referees under the age of 18 in youth football to remind everyone that the referee is still subject to the children’s safeguarding legislation – and should therefore be protected, encouraged and treated with respect.
Matthew Jones, Staffordshire FA Referee Development Officer, said: “Over 40% of referees in Staffordshire are under the age of 18. It is vitally important that they are supported and developed to ensure they continue to referee for many years to come.
“The idea of the yellow armbands is to help identify those referees who are under the age of 18 and to ensure they are supported – as well as making managers, coaches, parents and spectators think twice about making abusive or insulting comments to the young official. Essentially, the armbands are to remind adults that the referee is still a child, learning to be the best official they can be. Let’s remember, it’s their game too.”
Adam Evans, Staffordshire FA Chief Executive Officer, added: “Staffordshire FA is fully committed to The FA’s Respect programme and the ‘We Only Do Positive’ mantra. We have implemented the FA Respect initiatives at all levels of the game locally and have also introduced our own schemes, such as the Club Respect Marshalls and this referee armband initiative for officials under the age of 18. It is important that Respect is embedded across all levels of the game and that an innovative approach is taken to proactively educate the importance of Respect across our game.”
Gareth Thomas, Staffordshire FA Communications and Relationships Officer, said: “The support we received from our colleagues at Stoke City Football Club to launch this new initiative was excellent. There was some great exposure on the day via interaction with supporters in the stadium, promotion in the matchday programme, messages screened on the electronic boards and support from first-team players.
“The new initiative has also received some great exposure and feedback via social media and we thank everyone involved for the part they played – not least the six young referees who helped to launch the initiative on Saturday. We will now be working closely with all of our youth leagues and young referees to ensure that the armbands are visible across the county. We’ll also ensure that young officials receive the appropriate level of support and respect as they embark upon their refereeing journeys.”
To learn more about Respect, please visit www.staffordshirefa.com/about/respect