Club Secretary, a prominent and mandatory position within any football club.
Brendan Boyle discusses the importance of the Club Secretary role, being the main point of contact for St.Paul's Football Club, and gives some insight to the
'vast and varied behind the scenes work' that includes being involved in just about every aspect of the clubs activities.
8 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
BB: I've been in Jersey for about 14 years, I’m married and have two children. From a day job perspective I am a director at a local Venture Capital firm. My job takes up a lot of time and so there is a little bit of juggling to be done with family, work and of course the club Secretary role.
AT: How did you get first get involved in local football?
BB: My wife used to work with Charlie Browne (Former St. Pauls President) and Charlie invited me along to lunch back in 2012. We just got talking and I think Charlie then dropped into the conversation about getting involved with the St. Pauls FC.
I played when I lived in Scotland and Guernsey before moving to Jersey. By the time I moved to Jersey though, I had given up on the playing side as with having two kids and moving to a new island there were other priorities to fill the time.
Charlie suggested helping out on the admin side of the club and it wouldn’t take up too much time, so that was how it started, I guess there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
“It’s a really rewarding role,
you feel like you’re giving something back"
AT: What is the main function of your role as club Secretary at St. Paul’s Football Club?
BB: It is really quite a broad spectrum, obviously there are set things that you’re associated with as Secretary such as arranging the Committee Meetings and taking the minutes, plus arranging the AGM.
However there are many other things. You seem to be the first point of contact for any queries whether that be internal or external. For example if somebody wants to join the club or they've got a son or daughter that wants to join.
Obviously the club Secretary receives all the Jersey FA communications on things like the FA Charter Standard information; JFA meetings, disciplinary hearings; player registration updates as well as being a liaison for club fixtures, either from coaches at the club, other clubs or the JFA.
Other bits include sending recommendations for the Jersey FA Link Asset Services Centre of Excellence; ensuring kit and equipment is adequate for the coaching staff and teams throughout the season.
The list is not quite endless but also includes things like travel and signing cheques for instance. If the men’s first team are away to play in the Jeremy Cup in Guernsey, I look at options to get the team there, coach hire etc.
Due to being on the Committee, you get involved in ensuring the coaching positions across the club are filled and they have what they need to run a team.
There is always something that needs doing, we for example also have a connection with the Parish of St.Saviour as the pitch we play on is owned by the Parish. Therefore we have periodic meetings or discussions with them on various topics.
“It really helps the club to be able to get parents
or volunteers involved supporting what we do"
AT: With St.Paul’s being one of the largest and most historic clubs on the island what are the biggest challenges you have experienced within the role?
BB: I think it’s juggling tasks with other commitments, whether that’s work, family, and whatever else was going on in your life.
There are certain things that come up that need completing fairly quickly such as travel arrangements, a fixture issue that needs to be resolved, or even something that is happening that night.
Trying to make sure you do what needs doing in good time, but also trying to make sure nothing else has been forgotten. I think over time you learn how to manage that.
There was a time where the number of volunteers we had was fairly minimal so trying to make sure everything was done in time was a challenge. We found that with trying to accomplish things on a day-to-day basis and keep the club running, it felt like you're almost fire fighting.
This meant it was difficult to take a step back and start thinking about the next 6-12 months into the future and look at the overall strategy of the club.
How are we going to get better training pitch?
How will we make our facilities better?
What system can we put in place for collecting player subs?
At the time it was a challenge where you didn't feel like you're getting anywhere, but we learnt a lot during that period. We now have a stronger committee and volunteer base and there is help with the administration of individual teams, especially on the junior front, with the introduction of a Team Admin role for every team.
Generally one of the parents will complete this role and will send out communications including details of training and fixtures and if any of the details have changed. We try to get the Team Admin to look at player registrations and do any initial chasing for information the club may need. It really helps the club to be able to get parents or volunteers involved supporting what we do.
AT: As club Secretary, how much time commitment would be required each week and what type of meetings are your required to attend on behalf of your club?
BB: I think generally it depends on the size of the club. At St. Pauls we have Minis football all the way through to Seniors, so what we need to do will involve a lot more than a smaller cub with possibly a First team and a Reserve team.
It depends on the stage of the season as well. To start the season, you've got all the registrations and player subs to collect. Equipment needs sorting, and any additional purchases need ordering.
As the season goes on, you've got tasks like any disciplinary cases to manage, make sure any paperwork is correct and any potential fines are paid in addition to the annual Standard Chartered renewal.
I also used attend the JFA Combination meeting once a month but that has now been passed to another committee member of the club. It’s difficult to say how many hours a week, but I would probably say it averages around 3-4 hours, but it also does depend on what’s happening at any one time during the season.
AT: Being a club Secretary is a busy and varied role, what would you say are the main skills required to be successful in the job?
BB: Organisation. Knowing where to go for information and how to deal with it, especially when certain things come up as an issue throughout the season.
Obviously it helps to learn quickly and make good connections. Knowing the right person to ask for information, or at least knowing someone who can point you in the right direction is probably the most important aspect of it.
AT: Club secretary is a vitally important part any football club, what has been a highlight of the role for you as secretary of St. Paul’s Football Club?
BB: The highlight is really on going. Knowing the number of kids and adults we’ve got involved at the club is great. We have a thriving mins section, 11 junior teams and then the Reserves, Over 35s, Walking Football and First Team. Knowing that we have so many involved, enjoying their football and giving kids an opportunity to come and play and develop is why we do it.
We do take pride in the number of players who come through our junior ranks and represent the First team, Jersey and the odd few that play professionally. We have won many trophies over the years and to see a strong core of those teams having players that have been with the club for many years is really satisfying.
Our coaches interact and talk to each other so well, supporting young players who are ready have the opportunity to play up an age band or move into Reserve or First team football.
Also I think it's more than just football, there is the social side too. There are players who started with us in the minis section who did not know each other, years later they are still playing together. Even though they go to different schools they’ve made some great friendships at the club outside of football and these can last for many years.
AT: When appointed club secretary, what support or training did you receive to help you learn the role?
BB: I had support from Marie Browne who was in the role previously. Marie stayed on the committee and helped me get to grips with the role. I think now the FA and the JFA have some support and training for Admin roles so people have a clearer idea of what it is and what to expect.
It has changed over the years with Charter Standard Health Check making sure the club is doing everything correctly and providing best practice. This includes having a Club Welfare Officer to support everyone. More recently under current circumstances we now also have a Club Covid Officer too. There is a lot more regulation and paperwork which contributes to ensuring football is a safe environment for all, and that is the most important aspect.
“It's a really fulfilling role if you've got a passion for football"
AT: Clubs are always looking to source new volunteers, in terms of the secretary role, what advice would you offer to someone who is thinking about putting their name forward for a club secretary role?
BB: I think first and foremost, know what the job entails before committing to it. Again this will depend on the size of the club and the size of the committee, but I think that is an important one to check at the start.
Also check how many hours the role may take, make sure it is something you can commit too and that you can do the job justice.
If your playing days are coming to an end and you don’t want to be a coach, I think it's a really fulfilling role if you've got a passion for football. It is a really rewarding role, you feel like you’re giving something back.
Someone told me a while a go that the Secretary is the one that runs the club. Whilst not strictly true, I understand what they meant by it. The Secretary and other Admin roles are very much a team effort. Have no doubt though; you are the point of contact for most that goes on within the club.
As secretary you are generally involved in the vast majority of conversations where decisions have to be made. It’s definitely one of the more involved and varied jobs within a football club that you can have.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the St.Paul's Football Club?
BB: Facebook @stpaulsfc.jersey and Twitter @stpaulsfc or my email address firstname.lastname@example.org
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce
Jody MacCarthy explains his journey from jumping straight off the pitch as a player into the role of a senior men’s coach at the historic Rozel Rovers Football Club, the blue side of St. Lawrence.
Learning quickly, knowing your players and delegating and relinquishing some control is paramount to support the development of whole club. Jody describes how forming a “tight knit group with trust and honesty” ensures that coaches and players remain passionate and enjoy their football.
12 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
JM: Outside of the game, I'd say I am a fairly private person. I live a relatively simple life, family or friends are pretty important to me. I enjoy nice food and glass of wine. I enjoy the outdoors, walking especially since lockdown. I’ve done quite a bit of that. Work wise, I’ve been in finance since I left college.
Obviously football is a big part of my life. I’ve been football mad since I can remember. That Norman Whiteside FA Cup final game being my first real memory. I spent my childhood kicking the ball about, moved onto a real pitch at primary school it has been pretty much what I've known since.
AT: How did you originally get involved in coaching and why do you do it?
JM: Basically one injury at a time during my playing career, a bit cliché I know, but my body not being able to do what the mind is asking it to do. I had a few significant knee operations, which kind of pushed me into coaching a little bit earlier than I would have probably like to.
I think as a younger player I had ability to recognise a different view of the game, see the pictures. I always thought that skill lent itself to some kind of coaching role in the future.
AT: Where do you currently coach and what is your coaching experience?
JM: I coach at Rozel Rovers Football Club, looking after the senior men’s first team. Time goes quickly, this is my sixth season at the club. I literally jumped straight off the pitch into this as my first coaching role and have been here since.
AT: What is you current coaching qualification and how did you attain this?
JM: Through the support of Rozel Rovers and the Jersey FA I have gained the Level 1 Certificate in Football. The Level 2 course was due to start last summer but unfortunately this got cancelled because of Covid. That has been unfortunate but that's the world we live in at the moment.
AT: Working within your club, how are targets set at the start of season?
JM: I think traditionally with the profile of the club we've always looked to try and consolidate our league position, and hopefully try and complement that with a cup run. We've had a few decent runs over the time I’ve been here. We found ourselves in a good cup run last season, with a Cup Final on the horizon. Unfortunately, it was another thing that Covid managed to interrupt, which was shame as the players were buzzing. Obviously the Cup finals are like your showpiece kind of game. It was a shame Covid stopped the games, but that’s the way it goes at the moment.
“Whilst we don't always necessarily agree,
we speak the same football language and we get on well"
AT: How do you select your coaching staff to support you and the team?
JM: Currently we have Al and Trussey who take the Reserve Team. With regards to the First Team, we have Egg and Chad to help out on the coaching front. There is a pretty good dynamic with all the guys, whilst we don't always necessarily agree, we do kind of speak the same football language, so it’s good to bounce ideas off each other.
We all get on well. Over the six years I’ve been here, I have been fortunate in that regard. Even when I first came in with Andy and Carl, and Ayden afterwards, all good characters and knowledgeable. All have their own opinions of the game which blended I felt quite well with the way I was looking at things. They've been pretty big for us in terms of helping us through the journey we’re on.
AT: Have you changed your way of coaching or your approach working with these different people over the years?
JM: Yes. I guess principally, you have an idea of what you want and how to go about things; that might evolve over time but I think the underlying remains. As a player, I always had an idea or opinion of how I thought things should run, so I tried to take and implement those ideas straight onto the training pitch, which probably meant that in the early days it was my way or the highway type thing.
But obviously the game is about opinions. Everyone's always got an opinion! It's about being able to take those opinions from guys that you trust and work out the best way of doing things. It’s like in life I guess, you're always learning. So those five guys that I mentioned there, I've learned a lot from them, from working with them, to be able to be where I am now. And in the early days, I was not so good at that. However, I have learnt and continue to learn how to let go and hand over control a bit more.
“Take those opinions from guys that you trust to
work out the best way of doing things"
AT: How do you identify new players to be part of your squad?
JM: This season we've managed to get an Under 18s side back in the frame again, which is really good. Some youngsters have had a shot this year at the First Team and the Reserve Team football and that is great for both the numbers of players we have to choose from and it’s been great for the older players to see these kids coming through. It creates a bit more of a spark around place, which is really good.
In terms of recruitment, I'd say we're a tight knit club. Recruitment wise you're always trying to look for the right blend between a good player, and the right kind of player to fit in with the group. We want to make sure the positive group dynamic stays the same or improves.
That's one of the strengths that we've got, a good bunch of lads. While trying to find new signings that are the right personality to not disrupt the squad, whilst also making it challenging and spicing things up.
Recruitment can be a difficult one. Certainly locally you've only got a limited pool of players. It's not easy to identify a certain profile or a certain attribute. Guys that you think might give you something you may be missing. It is often difficult to try and get them in as there's a good handful of other clubs trying to do exactly the same thing.
AT: Once you have an established squad, how do you go about planning your pre-season training program? What does this involve?
JM: I guess I alluded to it before, you always have to evolve. Certain things that you thought were the right way to go about in the first season, you might hold onto some of those ideas because they work but a lot will have changed or developed over time. Trying to find out what works well for the players both in a physical sense whilst also trying to speak to players to make sure it’s interesting and exciting for them, to ensure you get a high level of enthusiasm and motivation.
Some people love running the sand dunes, running down the front, doggies etc and some people are the polar opposite. They don't want to do that so it's trying to find the right blend. We discuss what we think is the best approach and how we stage it. Its Amateur football, pre-season can be an issue as you rarely have the whole group together at any one time. Summer holidays and other commitments mean that you don't always have that privilege.
AT: Do you have a favoured formation? What is it and why? If not, why not?
JM: I think it's a lot of it is player driven, in terms of what attributes you have within your group. How do you find the best way to get those get those firing. You can't be married to a formation because there's so many different factors that influence team selection and the way you set teams up to play. The main thing is to try to maximise those attributes in the best possible way.
AT: Do you have a playing philosophy or way of playing that others identify as a Jody MacCarthy team?
JM: I guess a Jody MacCarthy team is a Rozel Rovers team as this has been my coaching exposure so far. Most people would probably comment that we're pretty well organised. We like to move the ball around when we can. When players go out onto the pitch they understand their roles and know what's expected of them. Those bits are key working at our level.
I think it's important that we go out there with a bit structure and a bit of organisation, but within that framework you've also got to let the players express themselves as best they can. Trying to find that balance between what it looks like for the group and how to get the best out of the individuals.
AT: How do you identify what topic your practice session will be based on and what is your process of session planning?
JM: In terms of delivering, delegation and preparation there's always conversations with the coaching staff. What we need to cover off the back of observations from our previous games or training sessions, or something specific for a particular game that we've got coming up.
If we know there's a team that plays in a specific way, we might have to adapt our approach, or if there's something that's caused an issue for us previously, then we'll try to work hard on fixing those issues.
Obviously there's an underlying way that you want to play and this will drive a lot of your sessions, but you've always got to have eyes on the Saturday fixture because you can't afford to sell yourself short, when it comes to game day, as that is the most important part.
AT: What do you believe players can expect from being involved in one of your practice sessions?
JM: Hopefully sessions will be fun, sharp, with lots of touches on the ball. An enthusiastic approach with observation and insight to help us along. I guess that fundamentally, for me as a player, that's the kind of approach which would motivate me so that’s my approach as a coach. So if I get all that, the rest we can add. (Tactical knowledge etc)
AT: Do you have a set match day routine you follow?
JM: Yes as I think that's important, so you don't have surprises. You've always got that structure, you know what you're working towards.
We have a framework that works, we know what time the players arrive, we build in time for players to have that social connection before we start, as we think that is important too.
Also giving yourself the opportunity to speak one on one if it is needed. Give a pep talk to the different units in the team and give players reminders or prompts whilst warming up because most of the work is done during the week at training.
“People don't really like having those difficult conversations.
I think as long as you are being fair and honest with people they respect that"
AT: Part of the coach role is managing conflict. As an example, how do you handle an irate player questioning their playing time?
JM: Dealing with people is part of the game. It’s the best part, but also the most difficult part. I believe honesty is the most important thing. Over time, there are numerous difficult conversations and people don't really like having those difficult conversations. I think as long as you are being fair and honest with people they respect that. Again, flipping it around, if I'm in the player's shoes, all I would want from the manager or coach to be fair and honest.
AT: Throughout the season almost every coach will experience their team having a dip in form or something is not quite working. How do you try to resolve these moments?
JM: The most important thing is that you trust yourself and you believe in what you're doing and trying to achieve. When it's not going well, I think it could be easy to listen to everyone else's opinion. There's going be times where, if you are in the Manager role and everything rests on your shoulders, you have to be really sure in yourself and the decisions that you're making.
Sometimes you need to block out some of the noise that's going on because that may generate a bit of discontent or chat. Whether that’s at player level; people watching the games; spectators outside the club; or even people in within it. That’s not to say it has necessarily has been the case for us but it can happen, that’s football. So I think balance is key.
AT: In your experience what is the most difficult or challenging aspect of being a coach?
JM: The biggest challenge is what I touched on before, it’s the people. You think you understand people, and then there's that moment when you realise that you don't. We've got a really great bunch of lads and everyone has their own story. Everyone's their own person and each of these people present different challenges.
Within the first team squad there are 20+ players, and then there is a wider framework if you include the Reserves and Under 18s, so you are looking at 40-60 players. 40-60 people that you have to interact with on the individual basis, making sure we can get the best out of each one of them, that is what I would say is the most challenging aspect
“As a coach you can supplement that learning and development with your words, your knowledge
and your actions"
AT: How do you and your coaching staff measure progress?
JM: Ultimately the biggest, most obvious marker of progress is your results especially at senior level. As you move through the age groups, the older you get the more results driven it becomes.
People will ask what’s your trophy count? Where did you finish in the league? However some measures are intangible, because you look at some of the players that you've worked with over a period of time and you can contrast where they started with you and where they are now.
Obviously a lot of that is on the player themselves because the players are always developing the more they play, and the more the practice. As a coach you can supplement that learning and development with your words, your knowledge and your actions.
“It's brilliant and so rewarding"
AT: What do you believe is the most rewarding aspect of coaching?
JM: It’s definitely seeing the development in players whether that be as individuals off the pitch or as footballers on it. Or both.
When you can help someone get through a little problem, whether that be on or off the pitch and you see it workout positively, it's brilliant and so rewarding.
AT: What is your personal ambition as a coach?
JM: I love what I’m doing now. It’s a great club, great lads, and really great support from a well-run club. It is like anything you're doing, if you want to do it, you want to do it at the highest level possible. I guess being the best you can be within the framework that you have. That personal ambition is to be to be the best that you can be wherever that is, whether it's amateur football or at Manchester United, just to be the best version of you.
“As a player, myself included when I was playing,
sometimes you don't often appreciate that"
AT: For anyone thinking of getting involved as a coach in senior mens football, can you provide a typical week in the life of a coach? What tasks you complete behind the scenes?
JM: For anybody on the outside looking in, I think you hear a lot of talk like it is the football management computer games.
Putting your 11 players out on the pitch is a small part of what the coaching role entails. You’ve got your session planning to do ensuring you are going into every Tuesday or Thursday knowing exactly what you’re dealing with and what you want to deliver, with your ultimate aim on the Saturday match.
Looking at how people are going to get into the team and what's going to be the best team to pick. Everything is ultimately geared towards putting the 11 players on the pitch but there's much more to it than that.
Behind the scenes, the club have a Committee Meetings every month that I try to attend and give feedback.
Personal interaction with players. I’m in contact with players frequently. There’s always a conversation with somebody about something.
As a player, myself included when I was playing, sometimes you don't often appreciate that. You turn up on Tuesday. Do your session. Your turn up Thursday, do your session. Then you have your game at the weekend. Not really taking on board everything else the coaches do, the conversations, planning and preparation involved away from the pitch.
AT: All clubs on the island are always on the look out for new coaches to support the development of players and the club as a whole. What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about getting involved but are yet to take that first step?
JM: Just go for it! It is so rewarding. If you've got good people around you, which I’ve been fortunate enough to have, and also the players that are playing for us.
At committee level, really, really good guys that have been there for us, through thick and thin. If you've got people that you can rely on that you can trust, then that will be a massive help going into coaching.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the Jersey Football Referees Association?
JM: Please email email@example.com or visit www.rozelroversfc.co.uk
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce
Luke Nerac, a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur who "just helped out" running the line for a friend, talks about his learning journey to becoming one of the most recognised and well respected Men in Black.
A role football simply cannot do without, Refereeing in Jersey is on a upward trend building mutual Respect and positive rapports with players, managers and clubs around the island.
The support, guidance and mentoring of new trainees that is currently on offer and has never been better as the Jersey Referees Football Association Secretary explains.
11 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself...
LN: Away from football I work in Unit Trust Settlements within the Finance Industry. I’ve been a member of St.John Ambulance since 2000, and have recently been involved in the antibody testing and the vaccination centre.
Within football, I have been qualified as referee since 2009 and I'm also The Secretary of Jersey Football Referee Association, which is a members organisation, mainly concerned with welfare of referees, and development of referees. Away from refereeing I’m a season ticket holder with Tottenham Hotspur, where you’ll find me regularly during non Covid times.
AT: At what stage did you decide wanted to become a referee?
LN: I’m not sure I did if I’m being honest. I used to help out Jamie Bara with first aid when he was managing at St. John's Football Club. He asked for my help to do the linesman role for the final 10 minutes of one game, so I did. The following week I did 20 minutes. Then the week after that a full half on it went.
I ended up running the line every week, and a referee called Neil Giannoni had seen me doing it regularly for the club and suggested I should do the referees course. I told him that there was no chance in hell that I was going to do that. A couple weeks later he saw me again and said that he was putting me down for the course. I went along to the course to learn a bit more but with no actual intention of refereeing.
AT: Once you had made your decision to go on the course, what was the course like and the process for you to become qualified official?
LN: It’s changed since I took it, but back then we did the course once a week over a 10 week period. You had 6 mentored games and then you took a test at the end of it. That course was quite successful because four out of five of us went out and refereed regularly and currently three of us; Gareth Bayley, my brother and I; are still refereeing.
Now, the course is over a weekend. A lot more focused the practicalities of doing the job as well as the laws of the game. Once you're finished you have 5 mentored games as a minimum. In Jersey we try and do a bit more than that if we can, especially for the younger trainees.
On the weekends the course is now based at Springfield. We try to use this opportunity to get the trainees out and referee the games there in the afternoon, so it's all geared around practical learning and doing the job by trying it out first.
AT: Once you've done your coursework and you've completed your mentored games, what does the test or assessment look like?
LN: The test itself is a multiple-choice exam. There's no you need to write paragraph and paragraph. There is also a portion of the exam that is a video clip test where trainees make a decision based on what they've seen on screen.
"Throwing yourself into the middle with little to no
experience can be scary that first time"
AT: Looking back at your first match as the newly qualified man in the middle, how did you feel and what was that first experience like?
LN: My first game was for U14s up at La Hague. It was quite a scary experience as a newly qualified 19 years old who was given a whistle and told to go and do a game. Paul Daniel was there as a Mentor, but throwing yourself into the middle with little to no experience can be scary that first time.
I started with mostly junior games and did a handful of senior games during that first season. However, it all depends on the person, I mean if you have somebody who is under 16 and there's only so much they can do by regulation. If you've got a older person who is a bit timid and needs a bit more support or time to grow in confidence, we would probably give them a few more junior games first. On the flip side of coin, if you have someone who's really confident and happy to go out there and try a senior game, they may move into senior football quite quickly. As an example being Vitor Antunes who has progressed quickly into the senior game and has done well.
AT: For the first time that I can remember in the past 20+ years since I’ve been involved in the game, it feels like during the past 12-18months there has been a real uptake and interest in the role of Referee, can you provide an update on this?
LN: We're up to 41 referees at the moment, which is good, as the number has regularly sat around the18-25 mark. Last season we only had 18.
The guys that come through have progressed quickly. Obviously within that we have a few younger trainees that cannot do senior football yet, but if we help development them over the next few seasons by the time they step into senior football at the age of 17/18 they will have 2-4 years experience behind them already.
AT: Bringing it back to you, since that first game, you have gained vast knowledge and experience. What has been the highlights of your career to date?
LN: One of the biggest highlights was the Island Games held here in Jersey. There was no way I would have ever been involved with the Island Games in any sport, without refereeing. We had referees from the mainland attend and it was a great week with them providing us lots of advice and guidance.
Last year I went to the Football Games held in Ynys Mon, Anglesey. Jersey sent a team, including Andy Norman and I, and we had a great week. Andy and myself were picked for the final as Assistant Referees. The atmosphere was electric, with around 3,000 people watching. It was such an amazing time.
A continued highlight is travelling to Oslo to referee every year. Andy Cox encouraged me to go with him one year. You meet a lot of new people and you get to work with people from all over the world. I've worked with Iranian, Kenya and Brazil referee teams and one year I was on the line for a game between two U16 teams from Brazil and Mexico. Lots of different experiences that you wouldn't get solely refereeing local teams, such as dealing with people who don't speak any English which can sometimes be a challenge.
AT: What has been the most challenging moment you have had whilst officiating?
LN: A couple years ago now, I had to deal with an incident that happened off the ball that I didn't hear or see. The game had actually gone well for the first 65 minutes or so, and then from that point it become quite challenging to manage finishing with 2 reds and
8 yellow cards; a few misconducts to report after the game, and to report the actual incident as well.
Its one of those games you come away from thinking “What if I had just turned around at that moment? What if I had just seen what had happened?”
You reflect and question everything you did during the game. It’s possible that there is nothing you could have done differently; equally though, there’s probably something I could have done differently. It’s one of those games I won’t ever forget, but it goes down as part of the learning process and you have to pick up different skills from it for the future.
AT: You’ve touched on learning skills there in challenging circumstances. There are obviously many skills required to keep control of the game and ensure the team benches and spectators adhere to the Laws of the Game. What do you believe are the key skills or competencies required to be a good official?
LN: Skills wise, there is a lot you can learn, we do not need a perfect person when we recruit. I think that there are three abilities that are quite important:
"We have been presented with a lot more developmental opportunities, next week we have Anthony Taylor who has refereed 2 FA Cup Finals providing us with training via zoom"
AT: The majority of people think the Referees role is solely in the middle of the pitch running the game, however there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes too. Can you summarise some of the work that goes on behind the scenes and the relationship between the Jersey Football Association and the Jersey Referees Football Association?
LN: Years ago we were left to own devices but since Brian Oliver (Jersey Football Development Officer) has come in and is working along side Paul Kemp (Jersey Referee Development Officer) its created a good relationship between the Associations.
We have been presented with a lot more developmental opportunities for example next week we have Anthony Taylor doing training via zoom for the referees on the island. Anthony has refereed the FA Cup Final twice and is the first referee in 100 years to do that.
We have a six week series of workshops coming up for Referees and Observers/Mentors via Zoom with Trevor Massey, who ran the line to Mike Dean in the 2008 FA Cup Final.
The FA have been in touch with league that the Jersey Bulls play in and there is potential at some point for a Jersey referee to work in that league too. I’ve used this opportunity already - working with a different officials team and a different level of football. That’s with the help and support from the JFA.
Members of the JFRA get together monthly. During some of the meeting we use the time to view videos and talk about different incidents. We can discuss what's happened and give advice. There is a range of experience from Level 4 qualified referees to newcomers. We also get zoom calls pencilled in with experts from the UK, and this has been a big thing developmentally for us.
AT: The Referee Development Centre for young people is proving to be a valuable asset to JFA. Can you tell us what is offered in terms of support to a young person wanting to learn how to Referee?
LN: The idea for creating the Referee Development Centre came from Brian Oliver and Paul Daniel. Most weeks will start with some theory, or with a practical session whenever possible. This then it goes on to a game that is watched by mentors and coaches.
We have young referees like Harry Walker who have been through the Referee Development Centre now coming back and helping us mentor the new trainees. It’s a supportive learning environment for young people, where our young recruits are able to make mistakes and it's safe for them to do so.
During development fixtures Mentors have the chance to liaise and interact with the young trainees at the quarter or thirds break; or half time depending on the game format. We give constructive feedback in way that the group feels comfortable to speak up, question and understand various aspects of their decisions and various key moments in the game. Are they in the right position? What was their view on it? Why did they come to a certain decision? All supporting their learning journey.
It’s not just about what they learn on the pitch. So much of it is about their attitude off the pitch as they are held to a high standard, which, to be fair to them, they strive to reach and exceed in doing.
AT: What is the career pathway for officials to go from Grass Roots to full time Premiership should they desire too?
LN: You start as a Level 9 trainee. Once qualified, if you are aged 15 or younger you become a Level 8 referee. If you are aged 16 or older you start at Level 7. You can apply for promotion from Level 7, to 6, to 5 and this will include several observations.
For Level 4 referees the criteria changes to include a fitness test and ensuring you give something back to the community and the game. So for example, for me its being the Secretary for the JFRA. Anything higher than Level 4, obviously the level of competition involvement has to be higher and is not something we can offer in the Channel Islands. If you’re looking at trying to get into the Premiership top 20 referees you’re up against 8,000 referees to do so.
AT: As we are aware there is a course coming up in the next couple of weeks, for anyone thinking about taking that first step, what advice would you give?
LN: Trevor Massey will be coming over to complete the course hopefully on the 5th February but this may change due to Covid, and he will be supported by our FA Tutors. Currently there are 6 people confirmed as registered so far. Hopefully if we can have as many as possible if not all of those 6 refereeing regularly it will be another boost for the local game.
Advice wise, just give it a go and enjoy it! From experience I can definitely say there are so many more good times than there are bad times. There is so much support in the background that people just don't know about, that’s from formal observations, mentoring - most of us are at a game watching and giving guidance, or asking what you think of concerning X,Y,Z? I have both asked for and givenadvice. Most of the referees are happy for you to call them and talk through a decision to assist you to improve and provide their perspective.
It is noticeable that football has moved and gone down the road of being a lot more developmental and supportive which can only benefit everyone.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the Jersey Football Referees Association?
Please contact our Referee Development Officer Paul Kemp by calling 01534 730433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce.
Jersey football is fantastic.
Through the governance and support of the Jersey Football Association there are so many opportunities to get involved in local football.
Whether it be on the pitch, on the sidelines, behind the scenes or on a club committee - there is alway something that needs to doing. And every club is always on the lookout for any help that you can offer.
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities club members have to support the running of their clubs and entice more people to join and support a local club.
By understanding what certain roles are, who does them and how much time it takes - I hope that in some small way we can encourage more and more people to step up and get involved in the future.
If you are a Club President, Secretary, Treasurer or Club Welfare Officer would you like to explain a bit more about your role?
Are you a senior coach, a youth coach, a referee, a player, a grounds-person? Are you in charge of fundraising or sponsorship? or do you have any other role that benefits the running of your club or local football?
With your help, I would love to catch up over a cuppa (virtually or outside adhering to Government guidance of course!) with the wide variety of people involved in local football and gather your experience directly to share with the local footballing fraternity and wider audience.
If you would like to help raise the profile of local football even further and have an opportunity to highlight some of the amazing work that goes on around island then please drop me a private message and we'll take it from there.
I look forward to hearing from you and promoting the passion we have for the local game.
"I have always believed that you succeed as part of a team effort.
I’ve learned that if everybody does a little bit, it adds up to a lot”