Former Premier League referee Neale Barry presented the Barkston Ash Referee’s Association with their National Referee’s Association QUEST Silver Award last night, writes James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson).
The Association is only the second RA in the country to have been given the accolade and the society and the West Riding County FA won praise from Mr Barry, now the Head of Senior Referee Development for the FA.
Mr Barry claimed “things are looking very good” for referees in West Yorkshire.
County FA chief executive officer Hannah Simpson and her Referee Development Officer Robert Madley, a current Premier League referee, were also there to see the presentation.
In receiving the Silver award, Barkston Ash have shown that they have a successful mentoring scheme, regular fitness training sessions and are helping young referees develop, as well as meeting other criterias.
The three tier award, bronze, silver and gold, has been brought in to bring “consistency and standards”. No society has yet to earn the Gold award.
Barkston Ash RA currently have 29 members and the vast majority are up-and-coming officials who are being helped at every step of the way.
New Barkston Ash RA chairman Ian Smellie, who replaced Tony Johnson at their AGM last week, said: “It feels like the icing on the cake.
“We are very proud of our development with the way we are perceived by other societies and other referees in the County. We feel like we are an example.
“The creation of Quest felt like it was just an endorsement of that, but we are very proud of being the second (association) in the country (to get the award).
“There are some very young referees who have joined and one lad is only 14. He’s here at all the meetings. He’s chipping in, contributing to the social side and he’s developing as a referee.
“I’d like to think with reference to up-and-coming referees that we are the first place to turn to for them to gain confidence and advice from colleagues of a wide range of experiences.”
Barkston Ash have two level three referees – Garreth Rhodes and Tony Murphy – who take charge of Evo Stik and Toolstation NCEL Premier Division matches.
Two currently act as assistant referees in those Divisions, while another five hold the same position in the NCEL Division One – the rest are making their way up the system
West Riding County FA Referee Development Officer Madley said: “We’re delighted (they have been given the award) because we are very supportive of our referee associations in the West Riding.
“Halifax RA have just reformed and we have taken a mixture of what Barkston Ash do (to help them reform) and Barkston Ash are the focal point within the county.
“They’re like pioneers. We have always had successful RA’s in the county, but Barkston Ash have taken it to a new level.
“Ten years ago Barkston Ash wasn’t a flourishing Association and I think the likes of Garreth Rhodes, John Key, Ian Smellie and Tony Johnson have embraced the Quest award.
“The fact they have gone away from the business side of meetings like reading the minutes from the last meeting is good because that’s not going to develop referees.
“The thing what is going to develop referees is to look at clips, discuss their weekends and refereeing topics, not how much the RA has in the bank.”
The evening consisted of a fitness training session, an interactive discussion using video clips showing foul play by members Rhodes and Joe Knowles before Mr Barry gave a talk on ‘handball’.
On the award, Mr Barry told Sports Performer: “It is a great achievement because the award is about referee development, referee participation in the group, getting young people in, having mentors and, like tonight, having meetings discussing on-field incidents.
“The (national) RA are trying to modernise and what they’re trying to do is to get the local RA’s to do the same.
“(Having awards like this) improves the game. We have always said that if you have a better group of referees, you have better football and everyone enjoys the experience more. The players do and the referees do.
“This is also a partnership between the RA’s and the County Football Associations and we know that those County FAs who engage with their RAs, everything improves.
“RAs bounce off the others and we have some County FAs that are not as progressive with their RAs as the West Riding is with Barkston Ash.
“Generally in this area, things are looking very good.”