The Derbyshire FA are looking to support young referees in the county by introducing visual aids for them to wear, to remind coaches, players and parents that the referees wearing them are under 18 years old.
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.
While the Derbyshire FA have been distributing the armbands across the county for the last few weeks, the campaign has been officially launched today, with the release of a promotional video with Derbyshire FA referees and Derby County’s Curtis Davies, and Kelle Roos.
In the video, both players highlighted the importance of referees to the game of football, and that we must do our best to protect up and coming refs.
The campaign will continue on the weekend, as the three U18 referees will walk onto the pitch at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday as referee mascots before Derby County’s fixture versus Preston North End.
The idea for the campaign first came about from focus groups held by the DCFA with young referees back in April, where the idea was discussed initially.
Reece Davies, 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.
"The most important thing from our perspective is that we have managed to deliver something which our young refs said they wanted - I think it's great that this scheme has become what it is from the focus groups we held earlier in the year."
To find out more about the campaign, or to get involved in refereeing, contact Reece Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01332 361422.