More than 80 young referees have travelled to St. George’s Park to attend a weekend-long training conference.
As part of their commitment to The FA’s two-year Young Referee Development Programme, the fledgling officials took part in a series of educational workshops to help them realise their potential and fine-tune their officiating talents.
Each County Football Association nominates up to two young referees (aged 18-25) every other year to take part in the initiative, which was established in 2002.
The weekend was organised by The FA’s National Game Referee Team under the watchful eye of programme founder David Elleray, Chairman of the FA Referees’ Committee.
A number of the country’s top officials, including Sian Massey, Stuart Burt, Steve Martin and Bobby Madley have all come through the programme and cite the experience as one of the most influential factors in the early days of their careers.
Daniel Meeson, The FA’s National Referee Development Manager responsible for Volunteers, said: “As fans, players and managers across the country wait excitedly for the start of the new football season, how many will spare a thought for the person in the middle.
“Little is known about the journey a referee will have been on before walking out with the match ball; or indeed what kind of education, training and development opportunities that referee will have experienced along the way.
“The aim of the Young Referee Development Programme is to ensure all referees are supported, retained and nurtured as they begin and then continue their career journeys.
“The weekend saw us delivering a captivating, inspirational and rewarding weekend for all.”
Recently published figures from The FA show that on-field behaviour in all affiliated football has improved, compared to the 2012/13 season.
Dissent cautions are down 13 per cent, while cards have decreased 10 per cent overall.
Red cards, meanwhile, are down 13 per cent, and misconduct cautions fell by 9 per cent.
Since The FA launched its Respect programme in 2008, nearly 5,000 additional referees have been recruited, with the current figure standing at more than 27,000.
Of 6,500 Respect reports submitted by referees last season, the overall marks out of 5 were 4.07 for the behaviour of the participants and 4.19 for their overall enjoyment.
To find out more about how you can become a referee contact your local County Football Association.
The next generation of match officials gather at St. George's Park