By Dan Andrade

Local referee Harry Walker has been receiving a lot of praise on social media following games he has taken charge of this season so we thought we would catch up with the young official to ask about why he started officiating, what his highlights have been in his short spell in the middle so far and we also asked how others can become a referee!

Read the full interview below!

When did you first think about becoming a referee?

I would have been about 13. I was helping out at St Clement Minis with some coaching and one of the other coaches said I should give it a try as knowing how to referee a game is always helpful as a coach. I did the next course that I could once I was 14 and it ended up just progressing from there. I am still enjoying every game as much as my first and hopefully going to push on as far as possible!

How was the course? How helpful were the JFA?

The course showed me a completely different side to football. It was 2016 when I did it and it used to be pretty much all theory based around the laws of the game with a small practical element learning the signals used as a referee and assistant referee. The JFA were really helpful when I started refereeing and they still are now. All of the staff are always able to answer questions and give support when needed.

Do you remember your first match you took charge of? Were you nervous and how did it go?

My first game was an U12 game between Grouville and St Peter down at Springfield. I was quite nervous before kick off but as soon as the game started I settled in to the match and really enjoyed being involved in the game. Knowing that I’ve helped a football match be played was something I found really motivating and made me stick at it.

What Jersey refs have helped you, and still do the most?

There are plenty of referees and other people involved in football that have given me loads of support since I have been involved. From when I started I had Paul Daniel, Mark Le Cornu, Nigel Hammond, Luke Nerac and Andy Norman all come along to pretty much every single game I did to mentor me and make sure everything went okay. As I’ve progressed I still use them regularly to ask questions and try to gain knowledge from. All the observers and other referees have also been a massive help and offered guidance that has helped me get to where I am now.

What would you say is the hardest part of officiating?

It’s really difficult to know the hardest part really. Every game will have a slightly different challenge for a referee so I’d say probably adapting to the game that you are refereeing. Some games need high involvement from officials with lots of fouls for little things due to game temperature, some games can just be left to flow as players are wanting to get on with things.

Which do you prefer, being referee or assistant?

I prefer refereeing to being an assistant. I feel that little bit more involved in the game and prefer the pressure to be on me in the middle rather than on someone else with me as their assistant.

Has there been a game which stands out for you as a highlight?

There are a couple that come to mind from the last year or so that I really enjoyed. I had St Peter U18s v Wanderers U18s in a cup final last season which was a really competitive game that went to extra time. This season I did a game in the Manchester Premiersip between Walshaw and Heywood St James. That was a real eye-opener to how amateur football is in England and a game that I learnt a lot from. I also was selected to officiate at a Premier League U16 tournament at Loughborough University in October which was an amazing opportunity. Refereeing Spurs v Southampton in one of the playoff matches and then being picked to do the plate final between Derby and Sunderland was a particular highlight of the games I have refereed.

How much you would encourage others to train to be a official?

I would suggest it to absolutely everyone involved in football. Understanding the laws of the game are a massive benefit and means you know why things do or don’t get given. It is a huge help to any game of football when a qualified official is involved. Junior coaches are always delighted when a referee turns up to one of their games because it allows them to focus on coaching. (It’s a good way to make a few quid as well!) The next course will most likely be run in February by Trevor Massey (who is a former Premier League assistant) and I’ll be there helping. If interested or looking for more information my email address is Harry.Walker@jerseyfa.com. I’ll be happy to help with anything about refereeing so please let me know any questions!

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