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Kevin Friend Inspires Our Members

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Premiership Referee Kevin Friend delivered a truly inspirational talk to AFA & LONSAR members. He was our special guest on September 8th, our first monthly event for the new 2016/17 season.

In truly professional style, Kevin arrived well before the event was due to start.

The evening began with two key aspects of the referee’s game: Preparation and Game Management. Kevin invited members to participate in role plays – everyone was in awe – after all this was a Premier League referee imparting knowledge to us all.

The role play began with Liam Giles being asked to role play a referee entering the field of play, introducing himself to the team captains, telling them what he was looking for from them as captains during the game and managing the toss up generally. Liam demonstrated with a gentle but clear authority providing a good lead at the start of the game, including when members role playing the captains presented mildly cheeky responses!

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“Everything counts towards making a positive impression”

Eye contact, clean pressed referee uniform and make sure you bring all your tools with you. As you enter the pitch, hold your head high, walk in step with your assistants and make sure you always look the part. Keep your flags on the outside as you and your assistant walk toward the centre circle.

Alban Bytyqi was then asked to role pay a referee dismissing a player for serious foul play. The player fouled, role played in a hugely animated Deryll David using choice language to demonstrate the point and reacting with extreme verbal aggression. He was well supported by team mate Neil Hagger, leaving Alban with a major Management situation to deal with.

Alban began by quickly taking the offender away, dismissing him then speaking to Deryll to calm him down and show him a yellow card for aggressive behaviour.

Members complimented Alban generally whilst suggesting it would be better to stand aside, keep as broad a view as possible and blow the whistle.

Kevin said it is important to make sure the referee keeps the distance from the mêlée, and ensure you keep a view as broad as possible.” “Never turn your back on the field of play!” he continued. As you are dealing with a player who has committed a cautionable or a sending off offence, isolate him from the crowd but don’t turn your back on the others.

“As you deal with the incident” he said, “don’t touch players, get close but keep your personal space free and invite players towards you and speak to them firmly and fairly. If you don’t feel your voice is being heard, don’t try twice – use your whistle – it is your most important communication tool.”

Both examples provided a brilliant spectacle of pure theatre of refereeing – widely enjoyed by members.

As the session progressed, Kevin talked about communication, confidence, personality and body language being some of the key behaviours and qualities for any referee – regardless of the level the game is being played at he said. “This is truly inspirational!” whispered Tini Kaja, an AFA & Lonsar member for the second consecutive year.

Leicester born (1971) but a Bristol City fan, Kevin started refereeing at the age of 14, back in 1985. Initially he refereed in local leagues such as the Leicestershire Senior League and the Midlands Football Alliance. He was later promoted to the National List of Referees, and later to the Select Group of Referees ahead of the 2009–10 season.

Like all referees he started on the first rung of the ladder but “I knew what wanted to achieve” he said, before turning the floor asking “Do you know what you want to achieve?”

Participants described him as very engaging and inspiring. After the event, Bruno Gaisie, an AFA & Lonsar member for over two years, said “Kevin was very inspiring and entertaining throughout the evening. I was particularly struck by his level of enthusiasm for the game and his commitment to the development of other referees.”

The event was a success and everyone enjoyed their evening. The day after, Robert Hanison, a longstanding AFA & LONSAR memer wrote to say “I enjoyed the meeting last night and it was great to see so many young referees present especially as the talk was aimed at them. It was also great to see longstanding members such as Peter King and David Carney.”

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