YOUNG referees are vital to the success of grassroots football but often face verbal abuse. Now a new initiative from Northumberland FA and Pinpoint Football League aims to tackle the problem.
They’ve joined forces to produce an armband for all U18 referees to wear, to remind players, coaches and onlookers that these referees are children themselves and are still developing their skills, and to help prevent abuse and intimidation.
The armbands will be rolled out from Saturday 26 October, and feature a brand new junior badge which was designed as part of a competition run by Northumberland FA.
Angie Forster, Northumberland FA’s Designated Safeguarding Officer, said: “Grassroots football is an amazing place for young referees to develop their skills. But too often they are subject to abusive or offensive comments, or other intimidating behaviour which is completely unacceptable.
“These armbands are a very visual reminder to everyone involved that the referee is still a child themselves and will help us to ensure our young referees work in a safe and supportive environment.
“We hope they will make everyone think twice about their behaviour at grassroots football.”
Lee Scott, the Secretary of Pinpoint Recruitment League added: “As a league we know how important it is to support and develop young referees within grassroots football. The armbands are a great way of highlighting and reminding managers, coaches and spectators that the referee is a young person who is still learning and developing. It is also a great reminder that as a young person we ALL have a duty of care towards these young referees.
“The Northumberland Football League have fully supported and endorsed the armbands and are committed to supporting our young referees.”