DAVID Elleray, President of the Referees’ Association, has backed the newly-formed FA Carlsberg Referee Awards to help increase recognition of referees at all levels and highlight the good work from those who are involved with educating and supporting referees.

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Elleray said: “The formation of The FA Carlsberg Referee Awards is a major step forward and will make people appreciate refereeing at a regional and national level, and demonstrate how much good work is going on in developing referees in this country.”

Elleray who started refereeing at the age of 13 and was the last amateur Premier League referee, is keen to highlight the work that goes on behind the scenes with referee coaching and development in this country.

“There is a huge amount of work being done by The FA in helping to develop our referees. It can be a lonely job so it is important that referees are supported and given guidance from an early age. The FA Carlsberg Referee Awards is a significant step forward in the world of refereeing, it will help us retain those currently involved, persuade outsiders to become involved and those presently in refereeing - to continue to assist when they stop being active,” he said.

With the recent success of current referee Howard Webb, refereeing has become more attractive since he oversaw both the Champions League and World Cup final in 2010. Overall active refereeing numbers have gone up from 22,500 in 2008 to 28,500 by the end of 2012..

Elleray continued: “Webb is an ambassador and a role model, that’s why we have him on the judging panel for the Referee Awards. Lots of referees want to emulate what he has achieved and perform at the level of football he is involved with.

Referees don’t want recognition or to be superstars, they aren’t in it for the money, but refereeing does give you an opportunity to be involved in the greatest game in the world at the highest level.”

The former Harrow housemaster reflected back to when he was a referee.

He recalled: “There was no level of coaching in the early days, The PGMO was set up in 2001 when referees turned professional and before that there was some education and development but no individual coaches. The first time I formally had a mentor or coach was when I was a Premier League referee in 1992, I had people to advise me but there was no structure.”

Elleray enjoys his current work as President of the Referees’ Association and also sits on the FA and UEFA Referees’ Committees but still misses the game,

“You can never replace being actively involved out on the field of play, I am very involved with developing referees which is a good compensation, but you can’t replace being on the field with top international footballers. People say how did I put up with the abuse from both the players and the crowds and my simple response is that I rather enjoyed being in the centre circle when Beckham scored from his own half at Selhurst Park and being on the edge of the penalty area when Giggs scored that wonder goal in The FA Cup against Arsenal.”

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