Purple shirts to be worn by young referees in Cornwall to encourage respect from the sidelines and prevent incidents of intimidation and verbal abuse
Cornwall FA launched its brand-new purple shirt initiative at Wadebridge FC on Sunday 1 December, with all referees under the age of 18 now set to wear the shirts on matchdays to identify them as children.
The purple shirts, which have been handed out to under-18 referees by Cornwall FA, aim to signal to players, supporters and coaches that the referee is a child and therefore still subject to the safeguarding legislation.
With this, Cornwall FA hope to see less incidents of intimidation and abuse towards young referees and instead develop more respectful matchday environments where referees can enjoy the game, gain confidence and flourish in the role.
After the shirts were distributed by Cornwall FA, the campaign was officially launched at Wadebridge FC on Sunday 1 December during a fixture between the club’s U12 boys and U12 girls teams.
Lee Swabey, Cornwall FA Referee Development Officer, said: “Abuse towards any referee is not tolerated but when it’s aimed towards an official under the age of 18, that can have a detrimental impact on their enthusiasm for the game and willingness to continue.
“Without referees we have no football, so it’s vitally important we create a positive matchday environment where our young officials can enjoy the role free of any intimidation and verbal abuse.
“These purple shirts will make it absolutely clear when the referee is under the age of 18, so if you see one on show this season, take that as an opportunity to offer support, encouragement and respect from the sidelines. Remember, it’s their game too.”
Cornwall FA affiliated referee, Josh Eyre, added: “I think it’s a really good idea. A lot of parents, players and team officials don’t realise the effects that abuse can have on a referee. Around 80% of young referees walk away from the game within two years, so hopefully the purple shirt campaign will help to reduce the levels of abuse that young referees receive.
“Refereeing over the last 18 months has been really enjoyable. It’s been quite demanding but I’ve enjoyed it and it’s nice to give something back to the local teams and leagues. To anyone thinking about becoming a referee, I say go for it. There are loads of benefits, such as improving your fitness and building confidence and communication skills.”
To read more about Cornwall FA’s safeguarding policies and procedures, please CLICK HERE
To learn more about The FA’s Respect campaign, visit www.thefa.com/get-involved/respect