National RA Welfare, Representation & Partnerships Lead Lee Markwick visits Woking Referees’ Society
The Woking Referees’ Society welcomed Lee Markwick, to their Society Meeting on Monday 2nd March who gave a fascinating talk on the subject of “Looking After our Match Officials”
With “Mental Health, Safeguarding and Duty of Care” currently high on most Society’s and County FA’s agendas, Lee‘s visit was a timely reminder of our responsibilities in this area. Lee and the RA Welfare & Representation Team (W&R) had previously represented one of our members who had been brought up on an FA charge, which gave our Society an insight into the fantastic work the National RA do behind the scenes in a member’s time of need. Lee did emphasise that the W&R Team unfortunately often have to deal with the ‘ugly side’ of the ‘beautiful game’.
It was comforting to hear that the RA are there to help give professional and legal help, guidance and support not only to the individual, but ‘the other forgotten victims involved’…family and friends. It was very clear that the RA take the Mental Health of our Officials very seriously which has been evident over the last couple of years at the Development Weekend events. Lee presented two years ago and MIND last year. Lee advised that this theme will continue this year.
It was interesting to note the silence amongst the room when Lee asked if officials were fully aware of their FA Code of Conduct in relation to their expected behaviour, and he gave us advice on our Social Media activity and some great tips on the management of players during the game especially when administering the Caution and Dismissal process and, how not to get drawn into arguments or ‘Banter’ with players and managers that has led to officials being charged by the FA for inappropriate behaviour and comments.
The safeguarding of working with U18s in relation to refereeing, mentoring, coaching and observing was discussed especially when officiating, such as allowing them to get changed and showered in private or whenever possible utilising separate changing rooms.
Lee also discussed the current on-going work with Government and the FA in ‘making football a safe and inclusive environment for all’. There was a healthy debate around making Incidents involving U18s a Safeguarding and Criminal offence first and an FA reporting matter second.
Many views around the room agreed that change must come from the top. Lee’s visit showed that us that the work of the RA is going some way to help shape that change. Lee urged us all to write to our local MP in order that we help support the changes needed in football.
Quotes: Thanks, Lee, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come down to see us at Woking Society. I know the members who attended last night have certainly gone home with plenty of information and a far greater insight in terms of what you and the RA do on our behalf, Thank you Andy Bennett, Chairman and L3 referee
"A very good night, I never realised just how much Lee and the RA were doing for us" Colin Barnet, Vice Chairman
"Lee spoke with a great deal of passion, ensuring welfare is high on the agenda at all levels of football" Callum Peter, Committee member and young L4 referee
"It was pleasing to hear this subject is being addressed, Lee and the RA are clearly on a mission to help all referees at all levels and ensure welfare is high on the list of priorities at the NRA" Vince Penfold, President.
Partnerships are often formed between individuals, agencies or organisations with a shared interest to address specific issues. Our evidence reveals that our members young and old often require mental, emotional, financial, medical help, support and guidance. The Referees’ Association champion the work of those agencies that provide this support in times of need. Should you require support please contact the relevant agency below or the RA Head Office.
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