England Rugby has launched a Young Match Official (YMO) programme to encourage more young people aged 14-24 to get into refereeing.
The programme aims to attract, train and retain 400 new young officiators to the English game. The YMO campaign follows on from the ongoing success of Keep Your Boots On aimed at former or retiring players.
England Rugby claim that ‘Keep Your Boots On’ has helped qualify 1,200 referees and 2,000 coaches into the game with the focus of YMO being to sustain the future of the sport by developing young officials.
‘Best seat in the house’
“Refereeing gives you the best seat in the house,” says ambassador for the Young Match Official programme, 23-year-old Christophe Ridley.
“I have to train in the week, I have to analyse my games, but it also gives me the chance to develop my personal and interpersonal skills both on and off the field. So far I’ve refereed four games in the Championship and I’ve recently been been given a full-time contract.”
Linking into England Rugby’s Young Rugby Ambassador (YRA) programme, which partners with vInspired, aspiring match officials will be rewarded for their time invested in developing rugby in their local community, logging hours in return for incentives.
“Looking at the current landscape, most referees are in the older age bracket and so, while recruiting from the ranks of former or retiring players is still essential, it is clear that the sport must find, train, mentor and retain referees aged 14 to 24 which is what this programme aims to do,” said Michael Patz, Match Official Development Manager.
If you’re in England and are interested in becoming Young Match Official, email your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org for details of YMO training courses near you.