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Published 20 February 2024 2 min read

New courses aim to diversify English refereeing pathway

Written by:

Aaron Bains

Campaign aims to recruit 1000 people from Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage backgrounds over the next three years

Throughout February, we've been delivering 13 courses as part of ongoing efforts to diversify the refereeing pathway and to ensure the network of match officials at all levels of the game becomes better representative of the diversity we see on the pitch.

The Reflective and Representative campaign aims to recruit 1000 people from Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage backgrounds over the next three years and forms part of the FA’s wider refereeing strategy, To Grow, Guide and Govern.

In collaboration with the County FA network across the country, this season's courses have already been delivered across Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Liverpool, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, and West Riding.

The additional courses taking place this month combine theory and practical training to support those who are taking their first steps into officiating. The course is designed to equip new referees with the key skills and knowledge needed to referee grassroots football matches safely and effectively, and is aimed at people aged 14 and over who wish to referee mini football, 9v9 and 11v11 football.

One of the courses delivered earlier this month was hosted at Aston Villa FC, in collaboration with Birmingham FA, with 36 budding match officials in attendances over the two days.

20 Feb 2024 1:30

Increasing diversity in English refereeing

Find out more about our ongoing efforts to diversify the refereeing pathway in England

The other courses this month are being hosted across Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Essex, Lancashire, Leicestershire, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Staffordshire and Surrey.

The FA launched To Grow, Guide and Govern in July 2023, which makes a significant commitment to diversify the refereeing pathway over the next three years through the delivery of a greater number of courses, bursary schemes, and enhancing diversity in supporting roles within refereeing.

Since the launch of the strategy, 227 people have accessed a referee course via the bursary scheme, while multiple County FAs have hosted ‘Get into Refereeing’ events for over 250 people from historically underrepresented communities, showcasing the benefits of refereeing, delivering referee taster sessions, and highlighting the important role of parents and guardians for young referees.

Raj Randhawa, the FA’s refereeing EDI delivery manager, said: “We recognise that the refereeing workforce is not ethnically diverse, and we know that action is needed to rectify this. This is a strategic commitment for our organisation and it’s clear from what we’ve seen on our courses so far, such as the one we recently delivered in Birmingham, that there's great appetite from people of all backgrounds to take up refereeing.

"We know there are barriers to entry for many communities, whether that’s access to training and courses or financially. We want to keep delivering these sessions to showcase that the pathway is there for those that wish to pursue officiating as a career option, supporting them in any way possible through training, mentoring and with financial support where necessary.”

If you’re interested in attending or would like more information, please contact your local County FA.