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Published 30 January 2024 4 min read

PGMOL and the FA create new development programme for diverse officials

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A new collaborative programme aimed at strengthening the pathway between the grassroots and elite game for match officials from historically under-represented communities has been launched

Both organisations are committed to broadening the pool of diverse officials in the English game which now includes ‘CORE X’, a development opportunity centred around helping address historical under-representation in officiating.
These commitments have been underlined with the implementation of PGMOL’s Elite Referee Development Plan and The FA’s 2023-2026 Refereeing Strategy, To Grow, Guide and Govern.
Aided by valuable collaboration with BAM Ref, CORE X has 23 members who are all of Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage and are operating at Level 3A and 3W in the men’s and women’s game respectively.

The group of officials met for their inaugural training camp in October 2023 after successfully being selected earlier in the year. Their in-person development meetings will be complemented by online meetings, with expertise provided relating to physical performance, nutrition and psychology as well as mental health and wellbeing. Football insights coach Irfan Kawri and partners Nujum Sports have both delivered sessions so far, as has Development Group referee Farai Hallam.

Hallam, alongside Aji Ajibola, Sam Allison, Damith Bandara, Emmanuel Edet, Akil Howson, Abbas Khan, Bhupinder Singh Gill, Sunny Singh Gill, Lisa Rashid, Ruebyn Ricardo, are all operating in the men’s professional game, while there are 11 officials from historically under-represented communities in the women’s pathway – Zeyad Ahmed, Folu Aladelusi, Emmanuel Arakpogun, Lauren Impey, Aaron Ford, Levi Gray, Maya Korpal, Ali Rahjoo, Yasmin Saeed, Ade Soneye and Yashar Yekta.

CORE X officials will also be given access to education and development opportunities to help drive their performance, enabling them to become future leaders and role models in officiating for the next generation.

Development Group referee Farai Hallam (centre) has been sharing his insight from the game
Development Group referee Farai Hallam (centre) has been sharing his insight from the game
Howard Webb, Chief Refereeing Officer at PGMOL, said: “Both organisations are committed to creating more pathways to nurture talent and diversify refereeing in the grassroots and professional game. We recognise that more action is needed to encourage and develop officials from all parts of our community to flourish and we feel CORE X presents a real opportunity for the next generation of individuals of Black, Asian or Mixed heritage to hone their skills and follow in a growing list of officials from historically under-represented communities in the professional game.”
Andy Ambler, FA Director of Professional Game Relations, said: “A key focus of our three-year Refereeing Strategy is to help to create new and exciting opportunities that will help to make refereeing in England more inclusive. We want to see greater representation of underrepresented groups across all levels of refereeing in the game, and the launch of Core X will help to strengthen the pathway from grassroots to the elite – supporting the next generation of diverse and talented match officials to achieve their goals.”
Arran Williams, Equality Diversity & Inclusion Manager at PGMOL, said: “The launch of the CORE X programme is a significant step and will provide the group with access to a wide range of expertise to support the development of their match officiating. It synonymously links the grassroots and elite game as we continue to work together with The FA to best support officials from historically under-represented communities to make that transition into the professional environment.”