Last month saw the Referee Development Groups hold their first meeting of the year, here at our Headquarters in Culver Road.
What was once the Sussex County FA Referees Academy Group, the program was then expanded into three separate groups; County Primary, Secondary and Senior Referee Development Groups.
The purpose of the expansion was to identify and support referees on a similar pathway and level, by giving them a dedicated coach.
Phil Wilks and Gary Willard are the head coaches of the groups, supported by a volunteer force of fellow coaches.
Last months meeting was a chance for the groups to come together for a theory session, covering aspects and implementation of laws of the game, followed by a session outdoors focusing on fitness and positioning.
After the event, we spoke with a number of the referees in attendance, to ask them about the benefits of being part of the Development Group.
Phil Wilks said: “I have been involved in the Sussex County Development Group since July 2012 as a Coach and over the past five years as Head Coach supporting the development referees at Level 7-5 looking to move up the promotion pyramid.
“This involves having oversight of the coaches in the group, setting up and sometimes delivering the content for the development evenings, occasionally watching a game and giving feedback as well as being at the end of the phone to discuss the referees’ games they have completed each week.
“In September 2016 I was selected as a Referee Development Coach for the CORE programme, working with referees across Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey as well as Sussex.
“This season I am supporting eight referees, five in Sussex and three in Hampshire. Watching each referee, a minimum of three times in the season and discussing their games, development areas and focus areas each week.
“I really enjoy both roles and it has been great to see improvement in each referee and successes in their journeys from grassroots referees to the Southern Combination, Isthmian Leagues and hopefully beyond.”
Perry Hart went onto add: “For me being part of the Development Group has had a huge impact on my outlook of refereeing.