Sports talk: 'Referees are human - we will make mistakes'
In the spotlight this month is Henry Boulton-Roberts, a 16-year-old referee and former Wells City junior player
What’s your background in football, Henry?
I started playing when I was about 11, I wasn’t really interested in football before that. I played in goal to start with, though over the past six years I’ve played just about everywhere. I played for Wells City up until U16s last season.
What appealed about refereeing?
I started to think about becoming a referee a few years ago when I heard you could make decent money from it! As a 14-year-old kid it sounded like a dream job – refereeing a sport I enjoy while making some pocket money too. I received encouragement from a few coaches, as well as friends and family, and I took my referee training course over the following few months.
Tell us about your qualifications.
I started out as a Level 8 referee, which is the earliest level for referees under the age of 16, and progressed to Level 7 when I turned 16. I have the option to progress further up the ladder if I wish, though at the moment I’m really enjoying the level I’m at and don’t really want to rise up the ranks for now.
Was it hard when you first started out?
I unofficially reffed a few games before taking my course, and I remember finding it hard to judge tackles, throw-ins, and foul play. When you start out it’s important to remember you’re in charge, as it becomes very easy to be influenced by players, coaches and parents. I certainly remember questioning my early decisions if the players didn’t agree with them.
What’s the most satisfying aspect?
When you blow that full-time whistle and know you have done a good job. Us referees are only human and we will make mistakes, but it feels great finishing a game when you know you’ve made correct decisions.
Do you have any favourite decisions?
There are a select few I remember and am proud of to this day. One particular one came when a player was fouled, but I allowed play to continue and the team scored a brilliant goal.
What is your biggest challenge as a ref?
I think dissent from the sidelines is the biggest deterrent for new referees, especially young refs. For me, it’s always the hardest part of the job, as having the sidelines against you makes reffing the game much harder. While I’ve encountered a fair amount of abuse, some of which is probably justified, I try to ignore it and not let it distract me from the game or influence my decisions.