Our new social media campaign, #ThankTheRef, is aiming to encourage more participants in grassroots football to positively comment on, and show gratitude to, their referee after each game with some inspiring words of support.
We're launching #ThankTheRef to highlight the value of referees and refereeing. We are encouraging all members of the grassroots community to tweet @EssexCountyFA after their next match, including the hashtag, to highlight why they appreciated the referee (or assistant referees) on the day, or why they feel they officiated the game professionally.
Referees in grassroots football invest their time and energy positively into the game as an outlet for their passion. Fixtures cannot be played without a referee, which makes them amongst the most important people on the pitch. Holding every whistle or flag is a human being who deserves to be fully respected so they can do their best to help the game flow.
Unfortunately, misconduct towards referees does occasionally take place, which is then governed by a robust and thorough discipline process. In addition, if our Referees Department ever learn of any challenges faced by referees during a grassroots game, an attempt is always made to contact the match official to see if any support can be offered.
#ThankTheRef was developed in dialogue with referees and the Essex Referees Association and aims to encourage the whole football community to think twice about making referees’ lives difficult in the first place. Referee Development Officer, Lukas Wood, is keen for a more positive environment to be built on social media, explaining: “Being out on the pitch is the best seat in the house.”
“You get to feel the buzz of the match and see the wonder goals, plus you may be refereeing the next star player. Just like players, referees take part in the game they love to keep fit and be part of a football family. Referees want to hand something back to the game and enjoy the camaraderie - sometimes as a team of three - and help 22 players enjoy themselves as well.”
“We take all reports of misconduct very seriously, facilitating the appropriate discipline channels and actively discouraging ill-discipline towards referees. We call on all members of the grassroots community to back all match officials, whether officially-appointed or mutually-agreed, and we remain committed to reviewing how best to support the refereeing workforce.”
“We want #ThankTheRef to highlight that bond between the clubs, the players, the officials and the referees. We’re already starting to see some really positive tweets from clubs as part of the Respect #WeOnlyDoPositive campaign and we’d love to see many more. We always share them via @EssexCountyFA and @EssexReferees, and it’s a pleasure to do so.”
Every game is different, and match officials try to be consistent from the first to the last minute. Mistakes will be made, unfortunately, and referees are the first to note it so they can try to do better next time. Match officials are constantly learning, and many attend workshops to try and improve, just like players do at training. Everyone in football should work with each other.
How can you get involved? Tweet @EssexCountyFA after your next match, including the #ThankTheRef hashtag, to tell us why you appreciated a referee (or assistant referees) on the day. Maybe include an image and video clip (if the referee is happy with this). You can also E-Mail text, images, audio and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.