As the second half of the season is due to kick off on 25th/25th January

Each week-end, there are thousands of matches played all around this country at grassroots level from under 8s to under 18s. An integral part of the game are the match officials that turn out each week-end to officiate at those games, ensuring matches are played following the 2 nights training they put in, all in anticipation of playing that match. On the Saturday or Sunday.

The work put in by the numerous coach's involved with the clubs/teams, should not be forgotten or indeed the time put in by the parents/guardians of the players in taking them to training and the matches they are involved in each weekend.

So what changes to those wonderful people on match day when the players cross the White lines to play that all important game.

The referee turns up and all is readied for the kick off, and everyone is in great form, the loud shrill of the referee's whistle herald's the start the match. All is going to plan until that first decision is made by the referee, and suddenly the atmosphere changes, one or other of the teams will certainly not agree with the decision.

Que the comments, from the sidelines, snide remarks about the referee are heard, their decisions are questioned, believe it or not - referee's are human beings, they look forward to the matches each weekend like everyone else, they train in the local parks, and attend mandatory workshops on the laws of the game.

There is not one referee that goes out to a match with the intention of making a mistake, like every player, they aspire to be the best they can be at officiating as a referee. How many times do the teams strikers miss a clear shot on goal, defenders miss their tackles or the goalkeeper fail to stop a goal been scored,I am sure none of the above go out to their match with those intentions.

Why, then do the people on the sidelines up and down the country, think they have a god given right to abuse a match official for what they perceive as a wrong decision in their opinion. Yes they are entitled to their opinion,however they are not entitled to abuse or confront the match officials for making that decision.

The biggest drop out rate in our game at present, is with referees', who in their right mind wants to be out on a pitch, to be abused/ridiculed or even more worryingly, to be assaulted by some adult that takes umbrage at a decision made by the official. If all the experts that stand and hurl abuse at matches towards referees every weekend, became official referees, we would have no shortage of referees to cover the matches every weekend.

We ask that when you attend a match, please be mindful of your comments/actions towards the match officials, should the current trend continue with the fall off in referee numbers, matches will be affected. More stringent penalties will be applied where match officials, report abuse/intimidation from those standing on the sidelines at matches.

Please "Let the Children Play",

You too, can play your part by supporting all the players and showing respect for the match officials.

13/01/2020 08:47