On Monday, 5th June 2023, the FA hosted it’s first ever FA Referee Recognition Awards to celebrate the referees whose unique contribution makes such a difference to our game, clubs and committees.
Two Essex County FA referees were in attendance following being nominated in which both Alfie Davidson and Lily Priest were both awarded during the evening.
Alfie Davidson was awarded the Unsung Hero Award as he has shown a strong commitment to making a positive difference in the world but has not previously received the recognition. Alfie also tirelessly works behind the scenes, making a positive impact to the lives of others. Looking ahead to season 2023/24, Alfie said that his goals are “trying to work hard to keep improving, and to enjoy my first full season at Level 4 Step 5&6 Referee. I aim to try and support referees during the season, especially those that are looking to develop and also those that just need some extra support”. Alfie went on to say for those considering picking up the whistle “anyone who wants to become a referee I would say to go for it and give it a try. It is something where you will gain and increase your skills such as communication and leadership.”
Alfie collecting his award alongside alongside Emily Heaslip, the 2023 Vitality Women's FA Cup Final Referee, and Ella Broad, Wiltshire FA Referee Development Officer
Lily Priest was awarded the Special Refereeing Recognition Award as she has made exceptional contributions within and beyond the refereeing community in England. Lily has made an outstanding and positive difference to her community, family, school and local club (Broomfield FC). Upon being nominated and winning the award, Lily said “I was really pleased to think that someone had taken the time to nominate me. The evening was amazing, and it was great to be surrounded by people who share the same interests as myself. It was lovely to see all of the different people receiving their awards and to hear the reasons why they were being given them. As the night progressed, I thought that my chances of receiving an award were gone but I was very happy to have been given the opportunity to attend the stadium. However, as Mark McAdam started to talk about who had won the Special Refereeing Recognition Award, I started to think that it sounded like me! When my name was called out, I felt very proud but scared I was going to fall over... again. I feel extremely thankful that the judges felt that I was worthy of this award.”
Lily has just completed her second season as a referee and her advice to those considering becoming a referee is to “In my opinion a referee who enjoys football, has a passion for the game and wants to be successful along with investing time into learning the laws of the game will make a great referee. Learn from referees with more experience and don't be scared to ask questions to help you learn and progress.”
Lily collecting her award alongside Jarnail Singh, former National List Referee, and David Crick, Chair of the FA Referees Committee
Brendan Walshe, CEO of Essex County FA, said “It's fantastic to see two referees in Essex being recognised for their hard work and dedication. On behalf of Essex FA, we want to congratulate Alfie and Lily on their awards and continue to wish them all the best for their bright futures within the game."
Referee Development Manager, Lukas Wood, added “Alfie and Lily were both fully deserving of the awards and it was great to attend the awards evening to celebrate their success. Both of them are great role models for young inspiring referees and they also have bright futures ahead of them.”