There are currently over 150 Referees under the age of 18 in Wales with more signing-up to become a Referee every day.
Referees are essential to Welsh football and often Junior Referees provide much needed support to grassroots clubs by refereeing matches that otherwise would not have a referee at all.
However, unfortunately many referees are deciding to stop refereeing because of abusive behaviour targeted towards them. The FAW recently revealed that 88 percent of match officials surveyed in Wales had received verbal abuse, whilst 1 in 4 Referees had experienced physical abuse during their career.
To continue the development of football, it is in everyone’s interest across the game to treat match officials with respect and to provide those under the age of 18, in particular, with support as they start their footballing careers.
To reduce instances of disrespect towards referees the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has introduced Yellow Arm Bands for Junior Referees to wear to signify to players, coaches and spectators that the Referee is under 18.
The FAW’s Match Officials Manager, Lee Evans, said: “The introduction of yellow arm bands for match officials aged under 18 is a great initiative. It will encourage people to show patience and respect to our young match officials who are the future of Welsh refereeing. The arm bands will enable our youngest referees to focus on the game and develop their skills.”
Jack Rea, the FAW’s Match Officials Recruitment and Retention Executive, added: “The introduction of arm bands for under 18 match officials has already been a great success in several of our Area Associations. Expanding this policy across Wales is an important step towards developing a Welsh way of refereeing and retaining our next generation of match officials. No ref, no game.”
The FAW have created a created a list of reminders regarding behaviour towards Referees:
- Be respectful towards the Referee and avoid criticising decisions
- Encourage other players, coaches, and spectators to treat the Referee with respect
- Let the Referee make their own decisions and avoid influencing decision-making
- Please do not use confrontational, offensive, insulting or abusive language, gestures or behaviour towards the Referee or surround them at any time
- Report any bad behaviour towards the Referee to the local Football Association
- Remember that the Referee is under 18 and any misconduct towards them will be taken as a Safeguarding issue
The FAW is committed to ensuring football is for everyone, where everyone can feel respected and supported across the game in Wales.
To further support the FAW’s vision for Welsh football and its culture, the FAW have created ‘PAWB Values’, a campaign which highlights the FAW’s core values of ‘Respect, Excellence and Family”
The FAW’s guiding principles form the acronym ‘REF’ and this iteration of the #PAWBValues campaign highlights the importance of respecting everyone across the Welsh football family to support the development of excellence.
These three key principles are in place to guide all aspects of the FAW’s work and are values which are key to growing and developing the game in Wales and will continue to feature prominently across the FAW’s upcoming initiatives.