FA Referee Mentoring Academy partners with Alderbury Football club

As we head into the 2023/2024 season we have been selected as the regional hub for the FA referee mentoring academy. We all know how importance of developing grass roots referee’s, as they can be in short supply at times. Through the mentoring academy, just as we do with our children playing at the club, we can help to raise the standard of treatment for refs within the game. We are helping to lead the way, giving referee’s and linemans the full respect they deserve as they fill an important role within the game.


The importance of the FA referee mentoring Academy

Here are some figures from the last two seasons on the FA conversion rate, you will notice a decline.

  • 21/22 – 149 Newly Qualified Referees / 91 Converted to Youth / Level 7 Referees (61%)
  • 22/23 – 133 Newly Qualified Referees / 43 Converted to Youth / Level 7 Referees (32%)

The initiative behind this project is to try and increase conversion rates within the Refereeing KPI’s and this will also help with retention of referees for the following season.

The figures show that there are a number of referees who aren’t completing their required training matches and therefore they don’t get a recognised qualification for the course. This leads on to a drop off in retention rate for the following year as referees are dropping off the system after their first one or two matches.

There are a number of reasons as to why referees do not complete their training matches. It may be that they simply give it a go and choose that refereeing is not for them – this will always be the case with all sports. The main reason, however, is that due to the abuse they get whilst refereeing it knocks their confidence and therefore, they decide that there are better things to do on a Sunday afternoon.

This project will provide newly qualified referees the opportunity to referee in a safe and positive environment whilst receiving support from FA Qualified Mentors. Alderbury has been selected as the southern region of Wiltshire academy and has been briefed on the project and understand the importance of reinforced good behaviour from both players, coaches and spectators. We will be running three academies across the county to make this easily accessible for all by limiting the amount of travel required. The academies will encourage newly qualified referees to complete their training matches in a timely manner and will allow them to receive fixtures straight off the back of a course. The mentoring support will allow these referees to build confidence and offer them guidance of how to develop and grow as individuals.

The Plan

The project will have three key catchment areas:

  • Swindon Town FC
  • Melksham Town FC
  • Alderbury FC

The project will run in line to the playing season, and we will aim for maximum capacity across home fixtures for these clubs. We are aiming for coverage on as many 9v9 fixtures with offsides in operation to ensure these count towards the trainee referee qualification, however it may be that we branch out into some younger age groups if the referees don’t feel comfortable going straight into 9v9 football making it as inclusive as we possibly can.

Alderbury will try to hold at least 3-4 home games over the weekends to allow maximisation of the mentoring project.

Next Steps

  • Run 3 FA Mentoring Course (one in each catchment area to allow for easy access) to ensure we have enough qualified mentors to cover all fixtures. We aim to qualify 8-10 mentors in each catchment area to allow for rotation.
  •  Finalise the process with the League Fixture Secretaries and Referee Appointment Officers to ensure that fixtures are scheduled in advance to allow assignment of trainee referees.
  • Contact referees from the 22/23 Season who are yet to complete their 5 training matches to invite them to referee at the academy at the beginning of season 23/24.
  •  Invite referees that partake in referee courses throughout the 23/24 season to referee at the academies.
  •  Invite all qualified referees to call back sessions (two per season) to receive their certificates and celebrate their success with their peers.

Outcomes of FA mentoring academy

The biggest objective for the project is to increase the number of Trainee Referee conversions year on year. The breakdown from the last two seasons shows that in season 21/22 we converted 61% of Trainee Referees and in season 22/23 we converted 32%. This shows a decrease in the last season; however, this was due to 21/22 season being the catch up from Covid-19 and therefore the Trainee Referees were more proactive in getting their matches completed as some of them had been waiting 18 months to take their refereeing course. This is also due to the fact that the 22/23 season is still ongoing so there are referees who are on their final one or two games before being signed off as qualified.

We hope that the project will reach at least 100 newly qualified referees and will increase the conversion rate to at least 75% of the number of referees we train. This will reflect positively on the retention rate as well as the referees will be involved in the game for longer after having a positive experience refereeing.

Alderbury FC will support this initiative and work with the FA to ensure its longevity.