Kick It Out host inaugural Referee Diversity Forum alongside FA and PGMOL
Kick It Out joined forces with The Football Association (FA) and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to host the first Referee Diversity Forum at Leyton Orient on Monday 20 February.
The event aimed to develop a closer relationship between the organisations and officials at all levels as well as encourage ideas to promote inclusion across the game.
The event began with an introduction from Richard Glynne-Jones and Kevin Coleman from The FA, before Troy Townsend and Imrul Gazi from Kick It Out spoke in detail about the organisation’s work and its aim to progress engagement with referees.
Troy also encouraged the officials in attendance to join Kick It Out for its annual Raise Your Game mentoring conference taking place at the Emirates Stadium in April.
Former Premier League referee Chris Foy, who currently works as Head of Community and Public Engagement at the PGMOL, then captured the audience as he shared his experiences as a professional match official.
Chris also praised the commitment of the attendees before sharing his belief that refereeing is becoming more diverse in the sport, thanks to the inclusion of BAME and female individuals.
The attendees then broke into groups to share their opinions and ideas on how the sport could develop a more inclusive and welcoming environment for referees to participate in. This saw the groups analyse the barriers and challenges currently in place for officials across all levels.
After the discussions, Farai Hallam, Referee Project Officer at The FA, then tested the skills of the audience with a series of short video clips, showing controversial decisions that have happened in competitive matches.
Speaking after the event, Chris was delighted to be involved in the first Referee Diversity Forum.
“It’s been a fantastic event, as seen by the amount of people here tonight from different backgrounds.
“It has been an informative evening, particularly when you get the opportunity to hear from organisations such as Kick It Out, The FA and the PGMOL and discuss life experiences in the game.
“I do believe refereeing is diverse. It doesn’t matter what nationality or religion you are, anybody can referee. I think it’s important we go out and spread the message that refereeing is for all.”
Kevin was also pleased with how the event went ahead of The FA hosting a national refereeing diversity conference in May.
“It’s the first specific referee diversity event, although The FA has been working for a number of years on this topic. These events are attempting to get voices from the ground, so that we can receive feedback which we can then input into our future work.”