Over the last two days, budding football referees have descended on St. George's Central School to participate in the 'Mini-Whistlers' football officials course, which was organised by ATSA via Lancashire FA in conjunction with sponsors Dr Oetker.
The 85 Year 6 pupils came from St. George's Central, St. Michael's, Meadowbank, Atherton St. George's, St. Philip's, Tyldesley Primary, Sacred Heart and Hindsford to listen to FA referee instructor and Football League assistant referee, James Mainwaring, explain the significant role of respect for officials not just in sport but also in society in general. Initially, James raised awareness and stressed the importance of having respect for people such as police officers, welfare staff in schools and teachers before moving towards respect for officials in sport.
The course lasted half a day and included a mixture of theory and practical based activities. All children received a 'goody bag' as part of the course. Many of the children who attended the course are members of the school football teams and the timing of the course was significant as the ATSA football leagues are due to commence after the February half term.
In facilitating this course, which take place annually, ATSA feels that it is meeting many objectives.
For example, it will hopefully give the children a greater understanding of the need for respect for people in society. They will also hopefully understand the difficulty involved with being a match official and therefore any 'back chat' that is sometimes evident will be eradicated as it is hoped that there is more of an 'appreciation of both sides' of the game.
Another aim of the course is that when these children will go on to secondary school they will be able to help referee other football matches, which in turn will help them to acquire/improve their leadership skills, required for some qualifications at high school.
A longer term aim, is that this course 'plants a seed' for a future career option. There are many students who, at an a older age, may wish to continue to be involved in football at a high level and for whom playing is not an option.
At the end of the session James explained how the children who attended were a credit to their schools and their parents and he reinforced the 'respect' message that was a key feature throughout the course.
The picture shows some of the children who took part in the course.
Mr M Grogan
Headteacher at St. George's Central
Lead teacher for Atherton and Tyldesley Sports Association (ATSA)