PGMOL ‘Breaking Barriers in the Community’ at Fulham FC

Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham FC hosted the latest PGMOL ‘Breaking Barriers in the Community’ event last week. This was an interactive community event in collaboration with Refresh Sports, Fulham FC Foundation and PGMOL.

The evening welcomed an exhilarating and insightful panel for the football community, hosted by Journalist, Alexis Nunes. The event included a conversation with Development Group referees Emily Heaslip and Farai Hallam. The community event brought together young football players and people from all walks of life. Whether you’re an athlete, student, parent, media or even a casual enthusiast, this event was an unforgettable experience for everyone involved, allowing attendees the experience to enjoy the role of a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) whilst also getting to know match officials, both current and retired, in the professional game.

Both referees Emily Heaslip and Farai Hallam are experienced match officials who have played professional football before starting their careers as match officials, with the officials now officiating games in the WSL and EFL. They talked us through their journeys and challenges faced along the way and provided a great opportunity to understand how a match official experiences matchday compared to a supporter or the young players in attendance. Heaslip and Hallam talked us through their support system and how they deal with criticism after a match that can inevitably result from a game, “If you look at our environment within PGMOL we’re very fortunate to have sport psychologists on board that are there to support us” – Emily Heaslip.

This evening brought together the community through passion, experience and a wealth of knowledge provided by these experienced professionals. The target audience for this event was diverse, encompassing football enthusiasts of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer to the sport, this event promised to cater to everyone’s passion for football whilst providing information on what it’s like to become a Referee.

PGMOL provided detailed information on how to navigate a career as a match official and the opportunities open to people of different backgrounds. This included a conversation with the FA Refereeing Delivery EDI Manager, Raj Randhawa, who explained the process of getting into refereeing. Raj spoke us through the opportunities that are open to people expressing that the initiative of ‘Breaking Barriers’ by PGMOL can have more people from diverse backgrounds involved in refereeing. This is shown through England Football providing pathways around the country and courses that can be accessible and affordable to people.

The FA are running referee courses for Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage individuals who are over 14 years old. On completion of this course learners will need to complete five games as a referee (either 11v11 or 9v9 including offsides) in order to complete the course and achieve the status of a Level 7 and Level 4W. The next available course will be held in London for a two day period between the 2nd & 3rd December and costs £40. More information can be found here.

Article written by AJ Abdi from BCOMS.

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