Irish FA head of refereeing Trevor Moutray has reiterated his commitment to widening the pool of and providing support to match officials in Northern Ireland ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Moutray and his team have continued to work hard during and post lockdown to ensure all Irish FA affiliated games are covered with qualified officials.
“Match officials are an integral part of the game,” he said. “In fact, where no referee is appointed, the game cannot be played.”
Moutray has acknowledged that whilst pockets of abuse exist the vast majority of officials enjoy a positive matchday experience.
“Every week, across the county, several hundred youth and adult games are played without incident. We are aware however of verbal, and sometimes physical abuse of match officials, due to reports submitted to us.”
“Like other areas of life, grassroots football in particular has been impacted hard by the Covid pandemic. It is our role to continue to promote the positive aspects of refereeing to ensure we retain talented officials who may have been periodically unavailable during the pandemic to perhaps pursue other interests.”
Moutray points to current planned initiatives, such as the development of support networks, the creation of an electronic referee learning library and the development of an online recruitment tool which was developed at the height of the pandemic last year. To date more than 150 have completed the online ‘Laws of the Game’ course, with many new match officials now officiating regularly in adult and youth football.
Every week, across the county, several hundred youth and adult games are played without incident. We are aware however of verbal, and sometimes physical abuse of match officials, due to reports submitted to us
However, Moutray acknowledged the hard work is far from over and that recruitment activity will continue over the next number of months to increase the number of available match officials.
Irish FA president Conrad Kirkwood has added his support to ongoing efforts: “Referees are a vital component in our local game. Together with the player, supporters, club officials, managers and parents and guardians, they form an integral link. Breaking a link in this chain means the game suffers.
“As someone steeped in the grassroots game, I know this first-hand and encourage all match officials to be respected and be free to officiate in every game without the fear of any form of abuse. Without match officials, games don’t get played. It’s that simple.”
To find out more about becoming a match official click here.