“Give it a go – it’s extremely rewarding and enjoyable!”

The SYACL Website talks to Referee’s Secretary Sean Wright

Sean Wright

The SYACL is no different to any football competition; the referees are a crucial element of what makes our League so special… and the Ability Counts League is lucky to have Sean Wright (pictured) on its organising Committee.

 Sean is the man who organises the officials for the five-a -side and seven-a-side fixtures. We wanted to know a little more about our Referee’s Secretary – who has been a referee for over 20 years.

 As always, we started by asking Sean to tell us a little about himself.

“I’m 53 years old and I live in Sheffield and have been involved in football since I was at school and used to play for the school football team. When I went to Shirecliffe College in Sheffield I played for the college football team and also Great Longstone and Dronfield in the Hope Valley League: plus I played in a 5-a-side League on Thursday night for a team called @The Fat Boys.

A Sheffield United supporter: I also referee at Sheffield United Academy plus watching Hallam FC as well.”

SYACL: When did you take up refereeing?

SW: “I started refereeing in 1997 after I had stopped playing, I decided that I wanted to put something back into football – I was also extremely critical of referees at the time! So, I thought ‘why not give it a go’ to see what it was like.

I enrolled on the referee’s course, which was only £10, and passed. It surprised a lot of people at the time that I wanted to become a referee!”

SYACL: When and how did you become involved in disability football?

SW: “I became involved in Disability Football in 2000. Brian Peck – who was working at the Sheffield FA at the time – sent out an email asking for referees who might be interested in getting involved in refereeing disability football. I got in touch with him and the first game I refereed was an 11-a-side game between a team of amputees, so they were all playing football on crutches.

They were so very skilful and fast: a real eye opener – and the game was extremely enjoyable.”

SYACL: You are currently the Referee’s Secretary on the SYACL Committee. Tell us a little about what is involved, and some of the challenges the role presents.

SW: “My job as Referee’s Secretary involves appointing the referees to both the 7-a-side and 5-a-side Leagues that we run. The main challenge in the role is ensuring that we have referees that I can rely on – which we have – and for the referees to know how to referee participants with a range of disabilities.”

SYACL: Tell us about the differences between refereeing disability football and mainstream football.

SW: “I find that the main difference between refereeing disability football and mainstream football is that the need for common sense and good player management is even more important in disability football. I take into account what disabilities the players have and I also believe that talking to players in a calm manner helps to calm them down.

If for instance a player in mainstream football shows dissent then they will now be sin binned; but if it happens in disability football I will talk to the player and also ask the coach to take him/her off to give the player some time to calm down. I allow them to bring on another player to replace the player who has gone off.”

SYACL: What would you say to anyone interested in becoming involved in refereeing disability football?

SW: “To anyone wanting to get involved in refereeing disability football, I’d say give it a go! It’s very rewarding and enjoyable to referee.

The main thing for me is that the players enjoy it and so do you, as the referee.”

The SYACL Website would like to thank Sean for talking to us, and wish him every success in the forthcoming season.

The South Yorkshire Ability Counts League features three pan-disability Leagues who play their fixtures at Concord Sports Centre, and three Leagues of participants with mild to moderate learning difficulties, including autism, who play alternately at Goals Doncaster and Goals Sheffield.

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