“REF – YOU HAVIN’ A LAUGH…?!”

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Truro City Youth FC challenge their football knowledge at new Cornwall FA Respect workshop

"A reminder (as if it should be needed) that refereeing is at best a challenge and that without the skills and the dedication of the ‘man in the middle’ that we have no game at all." Richard Head, Truro City Youth

The new respect workshop, which was released by The FA this summer and is the first of its kind in Cornwall, aims to interactively “challenge grassroots players and managers as to their knowledge of the game and enables them to gain a greater understanding to the demands placed on referees”, according to The FA’s National Respect Manager Dermot Collins.


“It is great to see one of our largest Charter Standard Clubs work closely with the County Association and the East Cornwall Youth Football League to take a proactive approach on improving behaviour in grassroots football."

 "The level of debate during and after the session clearly showed how the content challenged misconceptions around the Laws of the Game and has hopefully increased respect for the difficult decisions referees are faced with on a weekly basis throughout the County.”

 Jo Small (Cornwall FA Respect Lead Officer)


Throughout the workshop on Monday night Dermot Collins challenged participants to put themselves into the shoes of referees:  The session featured a quiz on the Laws of the Game, as well as an opportunity to make decisions on fouls and offside offences, based on video clips of real life football games. Referees have to make a decision every 12 seconds on average in a game of football and Referee Development Officer Ray Brown shared valuable insights into the thought processes behind these decisions with those present, drawing on his own refereeing experiences.

Steve Clare, parent and coach at Truro City Youth, reflected:  “I thought the FA's RESPECT presentation was excellent. From a teaching/training observation point-of-view the session ran at a good pace. Teaching techniques used during the session included:- Question & answer, quiz, video, discussion, role play, visual aids, interaction, explanation and humour! Combining all lead to an engaging and effective session.”

Steve continued: “It was thought provoking and lead to much discussion prior to Dragons & Raptors training last night... a mix of surprise at some of the rules; relief at realising that we are not alone in refereeing knowledge gaps but also eagerness to address those gaps with the proposed refereeing courses”.

Following the successful pilot of this workshop Cornwall FA’s Respect Lead Officer Jo Small is seeking to make the “Ref...You Havin’ a Laugh...?!” workshop available to the youth leagues and further clubs in the near future.

The Respect programme was launched in 2008 in response to concerns at deteriorating behaviour at all levels of Football. When the programme was launched it was acknowledged that persistence would be required to tackle the problems that football faces and for the Respect measures to have an impact. Although media headlines tend to be dominated by high profile incidents in the professional game, the underlying stats at all levels of football indicate a much more positive story: after five seasons across all levels of football on field discipline has improved, assaults on referees have fallen, 5,000 more match officials have been recruited and the environment of children’s football has improved.  

For more information on the Respect campaign in Cornwall visit www.cornwallfa.com/players/respect, alternatively contact Respect Lead Officer Jo Small on 01208 269010.

Jo Small