The Derbyshire FA are looking to support young referees in the county by introducing visual aids for them to wear, in an attempt to decrease abuse that they receive on-the-pitch.
They are hoping to introduce the scheme in time for the start of the 2019/20 season, and have opened themselves up to suggestions on the most effective way to deliver it.
The two leading suggestions so far have been either introducing different colour tops for under-18 referees to wear, or alternatively bringing in bright yellow armbands.
The theory behind the scheme is that it will remind coaches, players and parents that the referees wearing them are under 18 years old, and that will lead to a decrease in abuse towards them, and an increase in support for them.
A number of other County FAs, including Cambridgeshire, Kent, North Riding, Staffordshire, among others, have launched similar campaigns and the DCFA is looking to follow suit after seeing how successful they have been.
On Monday, the DCFA held focus groups with under-18 referees and their parents, and gave them a chance to communicate their experiences as match officials.
Every single group flagged up abuse as their biggest dislike in terms of refereeing, specifically mentioning feeling uncomfortable when coaches, players and spectators attempt to influence their decisions.
The groups flagged up that this treatment has led to them having mental health issues, and them even wanting to stop refereeing altogether.
Ryan Haynes, Referee Development Officer at the Derbyshire FA, highlighted how important the scheme could be in terms of retaining young people who are already refereeing, as well as encouraging more people to enrol on refereeing courses. He said: “We are committed to supporting all of our referees and this is an important step for those first entering the game.
“We don’t want the negative behaviours from managers and spectators to be the reason young referees drop out of the game.”
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