LEADING Football Association official Sir Trevor Brooking is taking a personal interest in the problem of recruiting and retaining referees in Huddersfield.
Both Sir Trevor, the FA’s director of football development whose role is to oversee grass-roots soccer nationwide, and Alan Wilkie, a former Premier League referee, are aware of the ongoing crisis.
Brooking, 59, a past West Ham and England international, said he wanted to reassure people from Huddersfield that the FA are taking steps to solve the shortage.
“We are implementing a five-year development plan, a national game strategy, which includes a scheme called the Respect campaign,” said Sir Trevor, left, one of the most influential men in football in this country.
“This will look to improve the recruitment and retention of referees nationally, including Huddersfield.”
Developing the strategy has involved a massive review of grass-roots football involving more than 20,000 people from clubs, leagues and the West Riding FA as well as referees’ associations.
One of the main areas of concern identified by the review was the abuse and intimidation of referees – cited as a main reason why officials give up.
The Respect campaign aims to allow people to officiate without being insulted, unnecessarily criticised or even physically assaulted.
Sir Trevor said the FA trains around 7,000 referees each year, but loses about the same number.
He added: “Our biggest challenge is to ensure people stay involved.
“We need to create an environment where it is enjoyable for them, and thus, where they want to stay.
“The Respect campaign will try to promote this.”
Anybody interested in becoming a referee can contact the West Riding FA via e-mail (email@example.com) or by calling 02077 454651.