Published: 27/01/2018 06:00 - Updated: 26/01/2018 12:14

Becoming a ref lands Lee dream trip to China

Written byCraig Christie

Moray and Banff referee Lee Robertson
Moray and Banff referee Lee Robertson

Lee Robertson, a football referee for little more than two years, has blown his whistle in Barcelona and will soon be heading to China to officiate in a major youth tournament.

The 18-year-old believes the best move he ever made was to sit a referee SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) course and join his local Moray and Banff Referees Association when he was a pupil at Elgin High School.

He is encouraging others to enrol for an introductory course being run by the group to cater for the need for new referees in this area.

"I got into refereeing because I loved football but never really cut it at a decent level playing," he said.

"(It started) when a teacher from my school advertised that he was running an SQA SFA course that would be two hours a week for a year and would gain us half an advanced higher and our referee qualification."

Now Lee is a category 4 development referee who officiates at junior matches and runs the rule over players he used to watch and admire as a youngster.

"Last year I was lucky enough to travel to Barcelona to referee the Iber Cup youth tournament.

"This shows what is possible and the opportunities available within refereeing, especially for young people."

His promotion to category 4 ref came just 21 months after he first started his refereeing qualification at school.

"My first game was Deveronside v Nairn St Ninian, which was a great experience and the level I had wanted to be at this season."

Even greater opportunities lie ahead for Lee, none more so than in August when he takes up a refereeing appointment in the Far East. He said: "I will be travelling to China to referee in the Gothia Cup, one of the world's biggest youth tournaments.

"Hopefully this will be a great experience and will improve my refereeing as a whole."

Moray and Banff Referees begin their latest course on Thursday, February 1. It will run fover eight weeks and covers the 17 laws of the game and will culminate with an online exam set by the Scottish FA.

The course is open to all, although candidates must be 16 years of age on, or before the date of the final exam.

Moray and Banff recruitment co-ordinator Darren Westmacott said: "Year on year, we are being asked to officiate at more matches.

"This is only possible because of the committed group of officials we have but there is always a need for more.

"With this in mind, recruiting and retaining new referees is key to enabling us to service the game in the local area and further afield."

Of course, football referees do come in for some verbal abuse from players, managers and supporters, and this does put people off from making the step to become a ref. Lee admits a thick skin is required to take up the role but said the benefits he has gained in a short spell as a ref makes it all worthwhile.

"There is no shying away from the fact referees get stick sometimes but the positives and opportunities outweigh it by miles," he said.

"My trips, refereeing cup finals and being on the pitch with players I looked up to as a kid are all great things which come from refereeing.

"There is always a team of other referees to help you along and a great team spirit be it on the field as a referee and two assistants, or at training as a group of officials.

"Refereeing is something you will not regret getting involved with. There are so many great times I have had on the field and some great games I've been a part of."

For more information on Moray and Banff referees' introductory course, or to register an interest, contact Darren Westmacott by email at dazwesty@hotmail.com or call 07979 002827, or association secretary John Black (john698black@btinternet.com or 07713 358554).

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