U18 Referee Armbands Introduced Into Teesside Junior Football Alliance
Teesside Junior Football Alliance working in partnership with North Riding FA to support and protect young referees
The Teesside Junior Football Alliance League (TJFA), which gets back underway on Sunday 8 September, is supporting North Riding FA’s Referee Respect Armband scheme, with referees under the age of 18 set to wear distinctive yellow armbands during league games for the very first time.
The new campaign will identify referees who are still subject to the children’s safeguarding legislation, with the aim being to make players, coaches and spectators think twice before subjecting young match officials to intimidation and verbal abuse.
All referees under the age of 18 who have registered for the 2019/20 season will receive a yellow armband in the post from North Riding FA, which is to be worn at all times when officiating.
Ahead of the armband’s introduction into the TJFA, which is one of the largest youth leagues in the country, League Secretary Kevin Close said: “As League Secretary of the Teesside Junior Football Alliance, the indication of junior referees is a positive step forward in reducing verbal abuse aimed towards match officials. Hopefully this will encourage more children from the age of 14 to actively seek a potential career in refereeing.
“The passion of football at all levels is clear, especially in junior football where mums and dads are willing on their child to do well and love celebrating success on the field. Clubs often find a shortage of referees to cover the near 400 junior games every week in the Teesside area. I often hear of officials as young as 14 being verbally abused due to what is classed as incorrect decisions, however I know coaches and parents wouldn’t verbally abuse their players for making mistakes. The armbands should highlight that these referees are the equivalent of junior players.
“Hopefully this positive step forward will be adopted by all member clubs to make the junior game as enjoyable as it should be.”
North Riding FA Referee Development Manager, Ross Joyce, said: “Nearly 45% of our current registered referees in North Riding are under the age of 18. Referees make mistakes just like young players do, and I ask that everyone respects this.
“If anyone has an issue with a young referee, they should contact the County FA direct and not take issue with the referee directly. We have a Referee Development Support Policy in place alongside our 24-hour support hotline, and we take the well-being of our young referees extremely seriously.”
Steven Wade, North Riding FA Chief Executive Officer, added: “North Riding FA is fully committed to The FA’s Respect programme and the ‘We Only Do Positive’ message. We have implemented Respect initiatives at all levels of the game locally for many years and are fully supportive of our match officials and this new referee armband initiative for officials under the age of 18. It is important that Respect is embedded across all levels of football and that an innovative approach is taken to proactively educate the importance of Respect across our game.”
North Riding FA welcomes its affiliated clubs to help promote the U18 Referee Armband scheme by sharing the flyer and poster available below.