As the new Chairperson of the Sussex County FA Referees Working Group, I am delighted that we are once again producing a regular Newsletter.
There are more than 660 registered referees across Sussex, and we want to engage with as many of you as possible.
I was somewhat surprised to find that Recruitment is not our biggest issue - yes of course we always want to attract more referees.
We are running regular courses across Sussex, and many are full.
Our biggest challenge is Retention - keeping our referees, not losing them.
There are a variety of reasons why officials decide to pack up - and we all know what they are.
They include work issues, age, injury, abuse, matchday experience, family time and moving away.
We have brought together a group of enthusiastic and determined people to make up the Referees Working Group. It's not a closed group and we always welcome people's input.
It includes the likes of Simon Faires, Red Egan, Will Briers, Wally Elvin, Keith Brisley, Dan Cooper, Dave Cole, Paul Rowland, Richard Sargeant and Ash Slaughter.
There is a genuine mix of youth and experience but we do need to do more in terms of diversity within the group.
Alex Bradley is the Deputy Chairperson.
Our aim is to support the refereeing community in Sussex, to be innovative and to come up with new ideas.
The four key areas are:
We have seen some great refereeing success stories in the last few years and more referees are advancing quicker.
We value every referee - whether you referee at a senior level or whether you are in the parks week in week out. We need you all.
We need to grow our numbers. We need to retain more referees. And yes, we need to get more clubs to realise the value of officials.
Rome wasn't built in a day and the Referees Working Group is working to support Paul, Lisa and Ray who make up the Sussex County FA Referees Department.
In conjunction with the Referees Department, some of our early work has included:
• Questionnaire for referees who have not re-registered
• This Newsletter
• Creation of a Video for new referees
• Ways to upskill our refereeing workforce
• Supporting our new referees in those first five key games
• More observers, mentors and buddies
• Ways to enhance how Central Appointments operates
There is so much that can be done but we have limited resources and some areas will take time.
It is also easy to be negative and say 'well, it's obvious we are going to lose more refs every season.'
It doesn't have to be that way.
I am keen to hear your ideas and what you think. Email me anytime at email@example.com.