Wednesday 7th May 2008 by C. Freeman
Year 12 student, Charlie Mawby has been a football referee for two years, officiating at local matches and making some tough decisions. Charlie had to attend a training course learning FA laws and undergoing theory and practical exams before he gained his ref's qualification. Now he officiates most weekends at local matches and wants to continue up the ranks to referee at higher level games.
Charlie has been playing football since he was seven or eight, and he is goalie for Rothwell Corinthians reserve team. He said: 'To qualify as a referee it's not a requirement to play football but it does make it easier if you know the game and play it as well. When I'm playing football my team mates often ask my opinions of the decisions made by the ref.'
Charlie has to keep fit in order to referee well. He said: 'You do have to keep your fitness up, especially at the higher level because if you don't keep up with the action it makes it harder to judge things. I quite like the challenge of having to make split second decisions. But what's hard is trying to keep both teams happy but you can't always do that. If it's a hard decision you've just got to make it and stick with it. '
Although there has been a lot in the press recently about how it's becoming more difficult to recruit and retain referees due to players and spectators increasingly questioning their decisions, Charlie has learned to cope with adverse comments.
He said: 'If people challenge my decision I usually just get on with the game and if they go too far they would get their cards. I've only booked four people and I've never pulled out my red card. The main reason they would get a yellow card is dissent towards the referee or any other linesman, fouling a lot and unsporting behaviour which is a key thing. That doesn't happen as much as people think it does in the lower levels but it is there.'
Charlie is currently a level seven referee and as he is over 16 he can officiate at both children's and adult games. There are 10 referee levels, with 10 being a qualified but 'inactive' ref and level one refs officiating at World Cup level. Level two refs officiate at Premiership and Champions league level and they can earn tens of thousands of pounds per year plus match fees for premiership matches.
Charlie plans to join the RAF and continue his referee training with them as they progress their recruits up the levels quite quickly. He said: 'I'd really recommend refereeing. It keeps you fit and is a great way of earning extra money in the evenings and at weekends.'