Referee Development Group HERO 1

Referees Hone Their Skills

Last month saw the Referee Development Groups get together for the first time in 2023

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.

“It’s helped me to identify areas in my game in which I needed to improve, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of without the help of my coach, and the different points of view he brings when analysing my performances. 

“As well as the opportunity to have an individual coach, the additional benefits of the group meetings, where a wealth of knowledge and experience is shared, brings new ideas and further cements my knowledge on the laws of the game.”

Giving his thoughts on the group, John-Patrick Kane said: “I started refereeing at 14 and entered the primary development group at 15. I found this helpful as we worked on improving match fitness, drills, and situational awareness on the field of play. 

“As a CORE member I have a coach, Phil Wilks, and we have a debrief following every game. This enables me to highlight areas of the game which went well and areas of future development. 

“The CORE and SDG meetings have assisted me in raising both my understanding and interpretation of law in live match situations. This has helped me in becoming better in a number of refereeing areas. 

“I have always appreciated the time and effort that has been given to me within these groups as I firmly believe it has made me a better referee."

Finally, Konrad Kaminski said: “Being a member of the Development Group leads me to encourage my personal growth as a referee by working with experienced coaches.

“In particular, I enjoy our beneficial outdoor practical sessions.”

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

For further details about refereeing in Sussex, including how to get involved with the Referee Development Groups, please contact: 

T: 01903 768573

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