Cornwall FA was delighted to host an online question and answer session with Premier League referee Kevin Friend recently, providing members of Cornwall’s grassroots football community with a chance to ask their questions and gain an insight into refereeing at the top tier of English football.
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions – and thanks to Kevin for taking the time to provide such fantastic insight. All questions and answers can be read below.
Q) How long did it take you to go from a junior referee to a professional?
A) 24 years from when I started at the age of 14 to get to the Premier League
Q) What advice would you give to young referees starting out on their refereeing journey?
A) You will always get criticism but always believe in yourself and trust in your decisions. Use that criticism to make you stronger.
Q) What are your opinions on VAR?
A) VAR is a very positive step within football and something that will only enhance our overall game and help us as referees. Like anything new, there will always be some minor blips. This is normal and something we should embrace. We have to get things wrong in order to succeed.
Q) Can you explain the process of how you review your performance after a game?
A) After each match I will always review the footage of the game. Going through everything from decision making, player management and positioning. I am always striving to be a better referee in my next match
Q) How is home life affected by the fact The FA can call on you at any time?
A) It is a fine balance between football and home life. I have an understanding family who support everything that I do. They understand what it has taken to get me to where I am now and they know that I can get a call at any time. I make sure the times when there is no football that I focus on them.
Q) How do you deal with scrutiny and the pressures of refereeing Premier League football?
A) No matter what level there is always scrutiny and pressures. Obviously on the Premier League this is highlighted more because of media. I am totally comfortable and don’t really listen too much to what they say as it is usually to create debate and not to educate. It doesn’t bother me too much as I switch off from it.
Q) Can you summarise your pre-match instructions to your team?
A) Mine is different to most. In the week I message my team and map out areas that I want them to look at and focus on ahead of the game. Looking at both teams, research them, their form and their tactics. In the pre match it is an open discussion of what all our expectations are going into the game. I also talk about how we communicate and no matter how good or bad the game is, we are positive and decisive in every decision we give. I have moved away from just me talking and find this way it engages the assistants better.
Q) How did it feel to walk out at Wembley and referee an FA Cup Final?
A) I was honoured to be appointed to referee the FA Cup Final in 2019. Both my assistants are also close friends and to walk out with Matt and Con made it even more special. When you walk out, the noise of the full capacity crowd is awesome. All the hairs stand up. Its an amazing buzz. An occasion I will never forget.