Referee holding ball

Mental Health Champions Scheme Launched For Grassroots Referees in North Riding

The scheme is being piloted in 11 County FAs across the North of England and the Midlands

North Riding CFA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The Football Association [The FA], to provide advice and support to grassroots referees and match officials across the county.  
The transformative scheme, believed to be the first of its kind for grassroots match officials in any sport, aims to create an open environment so that referees and everyone involved in the referee community in North Riding can talk openly about mental health and be supported. 

As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA has worked closely with Mind to co-design the mental health champion role to help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing. 

As part of the scheme, our volunteers Barry Casterton, Alan Rose and Tom Lishman from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as points of contact for any match officials aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
The scheme is being piloted in 11 County FAs across the North of England and the Midlands including North Riding and all volunteers have received mental health awareness and champion role training. The intention is to expand the scheme nationally during 2021. 

Richard Glynne-Jones, FA National Referee Manager said: "The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots referees and match officials. This scheme will help create a culture that promotes positive mental health amongst our refereeing community, encouraging honest and open conversations and breaking down the historic stigmas to inspire positive change. We are grateful for the support of the 11 County FAs involved in driving the pilot forward and we look forward to working with other County FAs on this over the course of the year.”

Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “Mental health is gaining increasing visibility in football, which is hugely encouraging. But while the mental health of fans and players is now being talked about more than ever, it’s vital that we address the wellbeing of everyone involved in the game, not least referees, who face a unique set of challenges that could affect their mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with The FA, and our training partner Washington Mind, on this ground-breaking scheme to support the mental health of grassroots referees and match officials across the country.”

Ross Joyce, North Riding FA Referee Development Manager, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that as a County FA we are supporting The FA Referees Department in piloting this really important initiative. At a time when Mental Health is so important, especially during the current challenging times, it’s great that we can offer our entire referee workforce the opportunity to access some additional support. 

“Here at North Riding County FA, we have worked extremely hard over the last few years to ensure we support all of our referees and provide the appropriate off-field support, so this further initiative will ensure we can improve our offer of support. 

“I’d encourage all of our referees to arrange a call with either Alan, Barry or Tom if they require any support; it’s really important that we all pick up the phone and speak to somebody if we are struggling. There is nothing to be worried about and any contact that you make will be kept in strict confidence. Even if you don’t feel like you can speak to one of our mental health champions initially, my phone is always switched on to take a call.”

North Riding CFA's mental health champions are Barry Casterton, Alan Rose and Tom Lishman.

Barry has been a grassroots football referee for over 25 years. He was formerly the administrator of the York & District Referees Academy and is currently a member of both the Referees’ Association (RA) and The FA Referees Committee. He supports many of North Riding’s football leagues and referees as a committee member, including City of York Girls, Women’s, Youth, U19’s and Adult Male.  

Throughout his career as a Civil Engineering Project Manager, Barry has supported fellow members of staff through difficult times along with football participants, friends and family. He is always happy to listen, talk and support.

Tom is a BPS Sport and Exercise Psychologist (In training) based in the Newcastle area. He is originally from North Yorkshire and is a member of the North Riding County FA. 

Tom has been a referee for 7 years and is currently a Level 4.

Alan has refereed for many years across various Counties, at different levels and for different age groups, men and women. He is a referee mentor and assessor and well aware of the challenges that referees face, including those that are self-imposed.  

Prior to his retirement, Alan worked in Clinical Governance for a Mental Health Trust based in the Midlands and his hobbies include playing bass in soul band in the North East.

If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact with Barry via, Alan via or Tom via to arrange a suitable time to talk. 


To coincide with Time to Talk Day, The FA and Mind recently hosted a webinar which focussed on ‘resilience in refereeing’. 

Please see the video below to view:

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