Over 100 aspiring officials, each nominated by their parent County FA, attended the Young Referees Development Programme Conference at Staverton Park and Daventry Town FC which is the first event of a two year programme.
And they were treated to a keynote speech from Premier League and FIFA referee Michael Oliver and assistant referee Stuart Burt, who were sat in the candidates’ seats themselves less than ten years ago.
That came after opening speeches from the likes of FA Referee Committee Chairman David Elleray and Senior National Game Referee Manager Ian Blanchard, before spending an interactive session looking at the importance of law knowledge, training and lifestyle, which also included the use of social networking.
Over the course of the two-day event, each candidate went through eight different sessions, ranging from fitness, assistant refereeing and decision-making under pressure.
Speaking about the Conference, Blanchard said: "It’s incredible to think that amongst this group of young referees we know we will have some who will reach the very top of the game.
"Needless to say, this requires a lot of hard work and commitment but already we can see that this group are talented and have the capacity to achieve."
The candidates now have a year of learning and development before they reconvene at St. George’s Park, giving them an opportunity to sample the outstanding facilities used by the country’s elite PGMOL referees, as well as further developing their skills and attributes.