Guest speaker Feb 2013: Jeff Pettitt – “Achieving greatness with simple steps”

We were pleased to welcome back Jeff Pettitt who has always provided us with and entertaining but fruitful evening on our quest to be better referees. Jeff was a Premier League assistant referee for many years before quitting to concentrate on his referees supplies business, A& H International. However he has not lost his  passion for refereeing and is involved in developing up and coming referees and has been the Referee Academy Director at Charlton Football Club since 1999.

Jeff started by saying how pleased he was to see such a good turn out at a referees meeting. Four RAs in London had resisted all suggestions that they should amalgamate but now they had disappeared completely. He was also pleased to see that at the top level they were now giving club markings as much weight as the assessors report, which could have an effect on those referee who ‘refereed for the assessor’.

If asked what the number one word was for referees, Jeff said he would have to say enthusiasm. This would be followed by the word bold. For example, too many referees don’t blow their whistles hard enough, as if they don’t want to offend anyone. Boldness he said, goes with self belief. Always believe in what you are doing and make everything you do, believable. Many referees he said, believe that success is something magical and mysterious but it is not. Refereeing is the same for those at the top level as it is for those plying their trade on the local parks. It is all down to committed application of basic fundamental tasks. For example, crisp signals at every decision, a whistle that can be heard. A few simple disciplines that can be practiced every day.

Jeff than split the meeting up into four groups, and gave them the task of agreeing amongst themselves the top five fundamentals for referees and placing them in order of preference. After the groups had had time to discuss their options, he asked each group for what they considered their number one, which he then wrote on the flip chart. A spokesperson from each group then explained the thinking behind their selection. Seemingly strangely, each group came up with a different heading, something Jeff said that he had never experienced before. These were, Communication, Attitude, Preparation and Knowledge. However, as the spokesman for each group explained the reasons behind their choices, it was clear that they were all thinking along the same lines but had given the process a different name.

For example under Knowledge, they weren’t just talking about knowledge of the Laws of the Game but also knowledge of the competition rules and how and who they should be communicating with when conducting in their pre-match preparation. This all involved the attitude with which the referee approached the game and communicated with his colleagues when applicable as well as the clubs and players.

Our thanks to Jeff once again not only for a bold and enthusiastic presentation full of self belief but for taking the time to put it together for our development.

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