Success for Lancashire FA Referees on the International Stage

Four officials from Lancashire return from IberCup International Youth Football Tournament

Four Lancashire FA referees and two referee coaches recently returned from a highly successful trip to Estoril in Lisbon, Portugal after officiating in the world famous IberCup International Youth Football tournament.

The four officials officiated in over 30 games across six days between Monday 2nd July and Saturday 7th July which included numerous high profile appointments to the play-offs, quarter-final and semi-final stages of the competition as well as an appointment to the U14’s final.

Matthew Shacklock, Kavan Hurn, Alex Smith and Matthew Moss were selected from Lancashire FA’s Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) programme, following a rigorous application process in which a total of 18 referees initially applied to be selected. The four referees were required to submit a written application about their refereeing careers and goals, complete and pass a Laws of the Game exam as well as take part in a regular fitness training sessions and development evenings.

Following the application process and consultation amongst the Lancashire FA Referee Development Team, the four referees were then given the good news in November last year and were joined during the tournament by Referee Development Officer Lewis Smith and Lancashire FA CORE Coach and Select Group 2 referee Darren Bond.

This is now the third year in which Lancashire FA have sent over a group of referees from the CORE group in order to officiate in an international tournament and the IberCup in Estoril is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world being attended by approximately 120 referees from all over the globe. In addition, the tournament is contested by teams from teams across 5 continents including countries such as Brazil, Argentina, USA, Australia, Egypt and China.

The tournament provides a fantastic challenge to our match officials who are tasked with refereeing in extreme weather conditions as well as officiating international players, therefore needing them to enhance their communication skills. Coaches Lewis Smith and Darren Bond provided in-depth feedback and development following every game thus providing addition support and guidance to the match officials enabling them to become referees for when they continue to referee on their local leagues throughout the county.

Upon returning from the tournament, Referee Development Officer Lewis Smith said the following: “We have been attending an international tournament for 3 years now and once again our referees enjoyed phenomenal success on through a magnitude of high profile appointments. It was a pleasure to work with the four referees selected and they can be extremely proud of how they represented the county FA.”

“Myself and Darren worked closely with each of the referees throughout the week to provide them feedback and development points following each match and we were extremely impressed by the commitment, dedication and professionalism shown by each of the referees. This unique opportunity allowed us to develop some of the best up and coming referees that we have within Lancashire and we look forward to seeing them implement the coaching points into their fixtures back in England. There is no doubt that each of the referees will continue to improve and progress through the refereeing levels throughout their careers.”

Speaking about their experiences after refereeing at the 2018 IberCup the referees who attended gave the following feedback:-

Matthew Shacklock – “I learnt so much from constructive one on one coaching which aided my development throughout the week. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish; refereeing international players as well as creating a great bond with the Lancashire FA coaches and referees.”

Kavan Hurn – “The week was tough, both physically and mentally however certainly enjoyable. The challenges that we faced were different to those that are posed in England, however the techniques we learnt and developed to deal with them apply to refereeing back at home. Overall, the week was a success for all of us involved and I can already feel the benefit in my pre-season fixtures.”

Alex Smith – “Hands down the best refereeing experience of my life! I understood how different teams around the world have different mind-sets and also experienced the challenges of dealing with different languages.”

Matthew Moss – “The whole IberCup experience was a fantastic opportunity for me to experience refereeing in a whole new environment and I learnt so much throughout the whole week which will improve me as a referee. I received some great advice and development areas from Lewis and Darren which I look forward to putting into my future matches.”