The road to Level 3
First fun fact: I have a strong preference for primary colours. So when I got my Level 2 Referee Badge, the joy was somewhat tainted by the green-ness of my new badge level. Something had to be done. So I decided to pack my skort and continue on my refereeing journey – the next phase of which I call “The Road To Level 3”. Or, for those instagrammers, tweeters, snapchatters, googlers, facebookers, tinderers, myspacers and teenagers: “The #roadtolevel3”.
Second fun fact: #derekfisherhateshashtags
Eight fellow, primary-colour-loving Level 2 Referees were joining me on the journey to gain our Level 3 Referee qualification and the yellow badge, including two of our friends from Touch France. This Level 3 course was the first time women outnumbered men. And not just by a simple majority, but by three to one. The fact that Derek Fisher featured heavily in advertising as the course presenter was obviously paying dividends in England Touch’s goal to recruit more women, as well as Roger Neighbours, to higher level refereeing.
The Level 3 theory course is run over two days and started with Derek and I discussing the merits of getting matching haircuts whilst he gave the group advice on whether to ever indulge in gluhwein (the advice: don’t). During the initial part of day one, goal setting was a key focus. After debating whether my ever finding a boyfriend was a SMART goal, we focused instead on our referee goals. This served as a great basis for the coming two days – as a group we got to know each other and personally it was a real motivator for why we were there. We also went through the expectations for Level 3 – of not only continuing to build a strong knowledge of the rules, but also how to facilitate a great game, what adventures lay on the disciplinary pathway, and how to communicate effectively on the pitch.
Day one finished with some drills on the field which were very useful, including some risqué whistle chat, with Derek giving us a Pantene promise at the end of the day’s training that “It might not come overnight, but it will come”.
On Day Two we were fortunate enough to be able to put the theory into practice by reffing the Southern Permit Women’s Open squad, which was particularly pleasing to exactly one third of our refereeing contingent. The standard of play was exceptionally high as we refereed the driving drills, line attack and defence as well as full games with the women’s squad. We were videoed on the pitch which we then critiqued during the afternoon classroom session – this was a hugely valuable aspect of the weekend. We also got to say hi to our friends which I thought was really nice.
That’s not where the Road To Level 3 finishes though. Each of us now has an exam to complete (an actual exam!) before we are then assessed in a high level tournament in order to receive our yellow, Level 3 badge. With three England Touch female referees gaining their Level 3 badge at the last Euros (Catriona Weir, Alice "Scooby" Watchorn and Layo Aromire) we have great examples to follow for our sport.
We’d like to thank Derek for travelling over to present the course and once again giving his time to help us develop as referees. A big thank you to National Referee Manager Nicolas for organising the weekend at a perfect venue that included an indoor field located in an upside-down bouncy castle, as well as Ian Syder for dropping by whilst running a Level 1 course on the same weekend. And finally the Southern Women’s Permit Squad for the great play and packing in plenty of deliberate infringements so we could practice our penalties.
The Level 3 course comprises genuinely two of the most interesting days I’ve had talking about sport (and this is coming from someone who has spent numerous weekends with England Men's 30s stalwart Ruez Durrani). We reviewed video analysis of different scenarios, debated rulings and delved into the grey areas that exist in all sports. We are all excited for 2017, and if you are thinking about moving on from your Level 1 to enter the referee development pathway, I recommend you do it, ideally whilst avoiding the disciplinary pathway. That pathway is not as much fun.
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