In an attempt to encourage more young people to take up the whistle, the Tyrone Referee’s Committee has launched the innovative ‘Young Referee’s Academy’. The initial intake has seen 6 individuals receive training and will take charge of games in the forthcoming Tyrone Under 13 League competition, which commences in September.
Speaking regarding the initiative, Chairman of the Tyrone Referee’s Committee Eugene McConnell noted that the Referee’s committee realised early in the year that a new strategy regarding recruitment and retention of referees needed to be put in place.
“Early in the year, a recruitment campaign amongst the Tyrone Clubs managed to identify 5 recruits willing to take on the challenge of refereeing. This has been the traditional means of recruitment but while this was a very welcome addition to the existing panel of referees in Tyrone, the age profile was over 30 years of age.
The committee sat down and began to examine how we could attract younger referees. We saw schools as the gateway to best promote the “Young Whistlers” recruitment campaign and try to encourage interest in 16-18 years olds that playing was not the only option for representing their club. We also wanted to illustrate there was a clear pathway to becoming not just a club referee, but was a progression to refereeing at both provincial and national level.
We provided them with the necessary training and having completed the initial programme the committee have appointed an experienced referee from within the Country to mentor the along the way and help them progress through advice and encouragement through their initial programme of Under 13 League games.
There have been several people integral to getting us to this stage. Ryan Mellon, the Ulster Council’s 3rd Level Development Officer, played a huge role in the introduction to refereeing course. We also enlisted the help of Sean Hurson, Tyrone’s current representative on the Senior Inter-County Refereeing panel, to assist on outlining the potential opportunities which exist for any referees and at the same time providing an overview of his own journey as a Referee. Cathal Forbes has also helped to establish the Referee’s Academy and his enthusiastic approach has been vital in making this happen.
The short term plan is over the next 5 years to develop the Academy so that we will have an annual recruitment of 4-5 new referees so that by 2020 we have 20-25 referees under 25 in charge of games along with our current referees. In Tyrone, there are fewer and fewer referees officiating. Each year, through retirements and changing individual circumstances, we are losing more referees than we are gaining and this is the first step in addressing that.
With the correct training and support in place, there is a clear pathway for progression to becoming a top class referee at county, provincial & national level. We hope this will encourage more young people onto our next Academy intake in September when we will visit the county’s schools.
Let’s hope that within the next 5–10 years we will see a Tyrone referee appear in Croke Park on either the 1st or 3rd Sunday in September.”
(L-R) Matthew O’Neill (Ardboe), Daire Quinn (Cookstown) Sinead Donnelly (Coalisland), Owen Canavan (Brocagh), Conor Mc Aleer (Killyclogher), Martin Coyle (Cookstown)
The 6 graduates of the Tyrone GAA Young Referee’s Academy along with (L-R) Sean Hurson Tyrone Senior Inter County Referee, Eugene Mc Connell Tyrone Referees Administrator, Ryan Mellon – Ulster Council, Cathal Forbes – Tyrone Referees Committee member
By tyronepro Tue 1st Sep