Gloucester RA recently passed its 90th anniversary. We are one of four Branches in the north of the county of Gloucestershire. We are relatively small and had, in truth, declined gradually over recent years. However, a recruitment drive around the full cohort of local referees in late 2020 produced an increase in membership to 29. These included colleagues at all levels from 7 to 3 – a welcome cross section to support the aims of sharing experience and self-development across the board.
We embarked upon an ambitious programme of monthly meetings for 2021/22, combining Zoom sessions with in-person meetings. As a further challenge, our venue for many years pre-pandemic was no longer available, so we were pleased to find a suitable and convenient new meeting place in the city centre.
It was particularly interesting to hear how our speakers had progressed to the highest levels of the game in terms of their successful pathways and the demands of joining the professional ranks, and also how they had overcome the inevitable challenges and difficulties along the way: all good learning for our members
Zoom sessions in September and January were led by Tony Harrington and Geoff Eltringham respectively. Tony used video clips from recent matches to lead a discussion on judging reckless and excessive force infringements, managing timewasting. He also helped with one of our members who had inadvertently obstructed a defender when a ‘screamer’ of a goal was scored. Geoff focussed on moving beyond the basics of laws/positioning/fitness to developing your mental approach to whole game/club management e.g. taking control of all situations, managing the people-side well and also your own disappointments.
The season was opened by Simon Hooper, who showed how critical match control is and the support from AR's. He encouraged us to ‘Trust in yourself, and believe’.
In October, Dan Leach asked us how to promote a strong team ethic with neutral or club ARs – and helped us to answer the question of course! He also used match clips to challenge our skills in recognising some difficult offside situations. His spot-on parting advice was: ‘Leave every RA meeting with one thing to do in your next game.
In November, David Coote used a recent Premier League game to lead a discussion on DOGSO, and a clip of a typical player melee where the key was excellent team communications.
In February Adam Nunn recounted a number of the challenges and successes at the Euro 2020 tournament, which included the sad and difficult Christian Eriksson issue.
In March, Peter Bankes led us to think about the Important Qualities of a Referee – no surprises but emphasis such as focus, decision-making, and snapshot the action. In April Marc Perry used a whole range of learning experiences, summarising his advice for the refereeing journey as Learn & Grow, and Clear Accountability.
In December, we held a joint workshop with University of Gloucestershire students, under the tutelage of former international rugby referee Chris White, coming from football, rugby, hockey and Boccia. As one might expect, we had interesting open debate and comparisons between our respective sports.
In May, we helped to stage a special event for all RA members in Gloucestershire, where Jon Moss provided a unique insight into his environment at the top of the refereeing structure with an illustrated presentation which gave a good balance between training/development and a welcome degree of entertainment.
With thanks to our speakers for their generous involvement, as we now reflect on how we can make our Branch even more successful for our members in the coming season.