Four Hampshire Referees including Matt Russell, Alex Mathieson, Andrew Bailey and I (Ross Murphy) all made the early morning trip to St George's...
We each had to submit our learning journals for evaluation which also included self-assessments, match analysis reports and ‘transfer learning’ from development sessions back home.
Daniel Meeson kick-started the weekend and provided an overview on how we have all progressed and developed in our year since our last meeting. Following this, Dan gave a session focusing on pre and post-match analysis. The presentation provided some key messages about the attitude and leadership required, when managing a referee team at level four and beyond.
The session was interactive for the ‘laws of the game’ assessment which took place after lunch rather than the usual format of an exam. I believe it is better to learn from each other when evaluating some very tough law questions. Andrew and his team were the most successful finishing with a score of 13/15.
Saturday afternoon signalled the start of our outdoor practical sessions. The programme consisted of four sessions focusing on simulation, teamwork, advantage and throw-in management. My personal favourite was the simulation section because it showed you the importance of ‘coming wide’ to get the best view and add credibility. My second favourite was advantage as it provided two key tips on how to delay your call for the best effect and outcome.
We were given a few hours in the late afternoon for leisure and we made the most of the facilities including the pool and gym. On Saturday evening we sat down for a formal dinner as a congratulations for successfully completing the programme and received our certificates; we were all congratulated by Ian Blanchard.
There was little time to celebrate as all four of us had to be up and ready by 6am to meet in reception for the morning fitness session which included a cross country run; others however opted for the gym session. FA Referee National Manager, Keith Stroud gave us a session on teamwork in the morning and focused on ‘how to get the best’ from your team during play. After that we were introduced to officiating outside the traditional male 11 a side game. We were educated on Cerebral Palsy and Blind Football as well as FUTSAL and Women's Football.
Unfortunately the weather negatively impacted on our planned practical sessions and so in the afternoon we improvised and moved the sessions indoors. This actually proved to be very beneficial and gave us time to complete a video analysis session of Contributory games from last season, analysing what referees did well as well as the areas for improvement. I was able to take away pages and pages of notes which will definitely aid my game going forward.
The weekend was concluded with a Q&A session with Ian Blanchard, John Brooks, Darren England, Roger Vaughn, Keith Stroud and Natalie Aspinall. This gave us a great insight into the lives and mind-set of some of England's best referees both past and present. The sessions gave us more inspiration for the new season and a willingness to achieve greater success.
In conclusion, I found my experience on the Young Referee Development Programme to be very beneficial. Over the two weekends I have taken away many lessons which have helped me on recent promotions and hopefully onto another successful promotion this coming March.