The annual FAW Referees Conference takes place at Cardiff Met FC this weekend as our officials once again take the opportunity to learn from some of the very best in the business.
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“The attendees will benefit from having two main principle guest speakers who are at the very top of their profession,” explained FAW Referees Manager Phil Thomas to FAW.cymru.
“Anthony Taylor and Stuart Burt are not only considered to be two of the best officials in the English Premier League, but also across UEFA.”
Between them, Taylor and Burt have officiated over 500 games in the English Premier League, and have been involved in 160 international fixtures. Their attendance at the conference is testament to the respect that Wales currently has in refereeing circles. “With their knowledge and experience, I am sure everyone will leave the conference as better and far more knowledgeable match officials,” Thomas added.
The conference is a key event in the domestic calendar for match officials in Wales, and the success of previous conferences has ensured that it continues to grow each and every year.
In addition to the Premier League duo, Dr Mikel Mellick will be offering an insight into mental wellbeing, while FAW Technical Director Osian Roberts will be discussing various aspects of his role in one of number of diverse sessions planned for the 3-day event.
Every element of refereeing in the modern game will be covered by a series of guest speakers and experts, with theory and practical work taking place in the classroom and on the field.
Law changes, the handball rule, communication and the work of the referee observers will be explained, debated and discussed. One attendee will be referee Iwan Griffith, who has recently been promoted to UEFA Category 2, and Thomas was keen to emphasise the value of such recognition.
“Being a relatively small UEFA country it is pivotal that we put Wales on the international refereeing map whenever possible,” he explained. “We were fortunate for many years that Lee Evans represented Wales at UEFA Category 1. This is now a new era for Welsh refereeing and Iwan has already made great progress in his career. Fingers crossed that not only does Iwan progress further, but that this can be emulated by our other two male FIFA Referees (Bryn Markham Jones and Rob Jenkins).
“Meanwhile, Cheryl Foster is also excelling in UEFA and is currently at Category 1 in the grading scheme. Lewiss Edwards (Assistant Referee) recently represented Wales at the UEFA U17 Championship Finals in the Republic of Ireland and progressed to the semi-final stage of the tournament where he officiated the match between the Netherlands and Spain. All these achievements are fundamental in assisting Wales in being recognised as a strong refereeing force across UEFA.”
But while progress continues to be made both domestically and internationally, Thomas is not complacent about what has already been achieved.
“At present we have approximately 1,200 registered referees in Wales,” he explained. “Pro rata, we are on par with the majority of other UEFA countries. Through our online courses, which includes a course aimed at those whom want to referee junior football only, or coaches who want to gain more knowledge of the laws of the game, we are hoping to significantly increase the amount of registered referees.
“At present I am happy with the progress being made and how we collaborate with the area associations to mentor new officials to help ensure the retention of current referees.
"I am very positive about the future of refereeing in Wales. We recently held a female only conference and course, which was the first of its kind in Wales. This was a very successful venture, and by driving these initiatives forward, as well as working closely with all our stakeholders, I am sure we can all help increase recruitment and the support available to continue to retain referees in Wales.”
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