Referees are an important part of our game and as the popularity of football continues to grow across Ireland, the demand for match officials is increasing.
It can be a very rewarding challenge, encouraging a healthy lifestyle as well as significantly contributing to the development of the game.
The FAI Referees Development Plan, which was launched in 2007 by the former FIFA referee Anders Frisk, set a target of doubling the number of registered referees to 2,000 by 2012. The FAI is also a member of the UEFA Referee Convention with sets the standards to be met in all areas of refereeing education and administration.
All referees registered with the Football Association of Ireland are allocated to leagues at all levels around the country. Referees are licensed at seven different grades and officiate from Under-age games to the League of Ireland up to international fixtures.
There are also a series of workshops held locally and regionally for Grassroot Referees which cover the latest referee techniques and methods. All referees must attend an Annual Seminar where they are tested on the Laws of the Game and other aspects necessary to officiate at their relevant level.
The League of Ireland Panel also actively participate in a regular series of Workshops and fitness tests held regionally and nationally through the year. Fifteen men and women FAI referees hold FIFA badges and they are regularly selected by FIFA and UEFA to officiate at international matches at all levels of national and club fixtures.
Many of today’s top referees in Ireland are graduates of the FAI Referee School of Excellence which is now its fifth series. All Referee education courses are facilitated by licensed FAI Referee Tutors. FAI Referee Observers throughout Ireland are constantly coaching and advising referees as they progress in Refereeing. Both Observers and Tutors also undergo ongoing education and training under the auspices of the FAI and Coaching Ireland.
Refereeing in Ireland is overseen by the FAI Referees Committee and there are also four Regional Referees Committees. Much of their work at present is focused on the roll-out of education courses across the country for existing referees as well as ensuring that those wishing to become referees have access to beginners’ courses and a mentoring programme.
Strand Celtic have produced several referees in recent years including John Barry, Richie Barry, Christy Heraghty and stalwart Alan Blanc.
If are interested in becoming a referee please contact FAI Referees Department – firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (01) 8999536 for more details. Equally contact the local Sligo Leitrim branch through branch chairman Seamus Devaney.