Six members, one from each respective area within the county, were elected by the Referee Development Manager to join the Referee Youth Council (RYC) Hampshire are fortunate enough to have two representatives on the RA-FA Youth Council; they were also invited to join the group. The council is completed by two young members of the Hampshire FA Referee Development Team; the County Referees Appointments Coordinator and the Youth Referees Coordinator, who is also acting as Chairman for the first year.
All meetings have a strong emphasis towards the development of youth referees. Constitutional matters are dealt with outside of RYC meetings, meaning that time spent together is purely driven towards the benefit of referees.
Members of the RYC submitted an initial analysis of their local district and potential areas for development alongside solutions to proposed issues. The initial ideas were then scrutinised by the RYC at the next meeting to determine which were suitable for progression. Within a short space of time, common areas for development across the county had emerged. Attention was then directed towards finding sustainable solutions towards a brighter future for referees.
Four projects were deemed to have the greatest potential to positively impact on youth referees in Hampshire:
- Introduce Youth RA meetings into each area.
- Retention of youth referees during the transition between youth and open-age football.
- Communication with youth referees; in particular utilising social media platforms.
- Promotion of the Referees Association.
In line with the structure of the RA-FA Youth Council, members volunteered their services for certain projects. Each group composed a plan of action with challenging yet attainable targets.
Despite being a new venture, the Hampshire FA Referee Youth Council has achieved some promising results. Under the guidance of the Council member for Aldershot, the area has seen an influx of young referees actively involved with the RA and further training events. This trend is set to continue in the Aldershot area and this pilot scheme has been used to determine a process of best practice for use in further areas.
The RYC have managed to forge successful, symbiotic working relationships with the respective Local Area Referees Committees and the County RA. These partnerships are key to the success of the RYC. The fresh ideas of the RYC have been ably assisted by the experience of colleagues to achieve positive outcomes across Hampshire.
To date the RYC now as a strengthened team of 10 members, some original, and some introduced working towards both original and revised targets. As well as the 10 core members, the RYC is fortunate enough to be bolstered by a further 3 Co-opted members and supported by two further leads.
Over the last three seasons, the RYC has successfully run Young Referees' Development Days, assisted in the transition from Youth Football to Open Age, Supported both RA's and LARC's across the county as well as offering their guidance at Next Steps Workshops. The formation of the RYC's very own Development Group for Referee's has been at the forefront of much of the success that this group of volunteers have achieved.