Ahead of the 2020/21 season and then for all newly qualified referees, yellow armbands will be provided for referees under the age of 18 to signify their age, ensuring coaches, spectators and players are aware that they are still subject to The FA’s Safeguarding Children legislation.
The aim of the armband is to make coaches, spectators and players recognise that these officials are still children and there should be consideration when talking to them throughout a match. All referees make mistakes, and it is particularly important at this age that officials are supported at all times.
All of Middlesex FA’s U18 referees will receive their armband before the start of the 2020/21 season, which we encourage them to wear when officiating.
Currently, 34% of MFA registered referees are Under 18. Retention rates of U18 referees in the game is alarming low, with verbal abuse on match-days cited as the main reason for standing down. We hope this initiative will go some way to improving the match-day experience for referees and see more match officials work their way through the system.
Sharon Porter, Middlesex FA’s Designated Safeguarding Officer, commented, ‘At Middlesex FA we take the well-being of our youth referees extremely seriously. If anyone has any negative feedback for a young referee, do not take this to them directly as this can be intimidating and have a detrimental effect. Contact the county FA direct. It is important to be constructive, kind and respectful as this will help to develop them in their role.’