New ref braced for challenge after taking on Norfolk FA course
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Budding official Michael Perry was due to make his refereeing debut on Saturday – a week after taking his course with Norfolk FA.
The 21-year-old, who works in customer services at Aviva, spent last weekend learning about how to take charge of football matches.
And that's what he was preparing for on Saturday when he became the man in the middle for the first time after being assigned to a match in the Norwich Christian League.
Perry said: 'I saw the course come up and thought I'd have a go. You see Howard Webb doing all these international games and it inspired me to try and do something like that.
'The course was different to how I expected. I thought it would be a bit more about watching games and watching referees but we did a lot of theory work at first. I know the laws of the game but we looked at how to apply them.
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'It's a strange career choice for someone of my age I guess but I want to prove I can do it. If I work my way up I'll be proving people wrong.'
The trainee referee hasn't played football for a few years due to weekend work commitments but believes it's easier to get into running the game rather than playing it.
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And the Fulham fan, who already admits he now watches what officials do on a pitch rather than the game itself, is prepared for any criticism which may come his way come kick-off.
He said: 'I think it's quite difficult to get into a high quality of football these days if you're playing. And there's less teams about.
'So I'm just going to see how refereeing goes. If an opportunity comes to ref in a higher league I'll probably take it.
'But that's a long way off so I think it's better to start learning now than when I'm 30.
'I'm expecting it to be quite a nice league to start in. But I'm aware I'm putting myself in a position where my decisions are going to be up for debate.
'You need to be thick skinned and you can't take it personally when things get heated.
'You just give what you see and I'm sure I've been called a lot worse than what I'll hear on a pitch so I'll just take it on the chin.'
Perry's weekend with the Norfolk FA ensured he had completed steps one (induction), two (law tuition) and four (exam) of the training course.
He still has to complete areas three (safeguarding children workshop and receive final CRB check approval), five (refereeing six games) and six (training workshop).
The 21-year-old will only be reclassified as either a level seven or eight qualified referee once he has finished his training.
- To read the full feature on refereeing in Norfolk, click on the related link.