In January, Stockport Referees were incredibly fortunate to welcome officials from the Dutch Eredivise, as Referee Joey Kooij and Assistant Referees Dyon Fikkert and Patrick Inia talked about their refereeing careers and shared their experiences of officiating in one of Europe’s biggest leagues. 
Hosted by Select Group 2 referee and Stockport Refs member Matthew Donohue, the Dutch trio spoke in detail about their pathway to the Dutch top-flight and refereeing in grassroots football in the Netherlands. 
Joey Kooij, Dyon Fikkert and Patrick Inia all recently attended the UEFA CORE event, and the trio mentioned about the experiences of working with referees from different countries during the development event. 
Kooji has also been added to the prestigious FIFA list of referees, and the Dutchman told Stockport Refs that “It is a big dream to become a FIFA referee.”  
The monthly meeting was the first of several events taking part at Stockport Referees Society in January, with the return of weekly fitness training sessions for referees, which takes place every Monday evening, free of charge to society members. 
In January, the society also had three members appointed to the third round of the Emirates FA Cup. Matt Donohue and James Wilson were both involved in Hartlepool’s clash with Blackpool, while Wade Smith, who made his Premier League debut earlier this season, was the assistant referee at Stamford Bridge, for Chelsea versus Chesterfield. 
The new year will also see Stockport Refs continue their new mentoring programme for newly qualified referees. Several members recently took part in a mentoring training course, to help provide new referees with the opportunity to feel supported, confident and with the platform to learn and improve during their first season. 
January will also see the observations of young referees participating in the Bob Hurren Trophy continue, with many referees competing for the award which is given to the most improved referee at the end of the season. 
This season saw the launch of Series 1 of Stockport Refs YouTube series Behind The Whistle. Guests have given their insight into refereeing at various levels, from the professional game all the way to grassroots. 

 To watch any of the episodes of Behind The Whistle, click the provided. 

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