We are just entering what I anticipate will be an exceptionally busy season. A number of changes in competition fixtures will put increased pressure on our resources. This will require the optimum level of availability from all members.
In the last number of years the “off season” seems to get shorter and shorter. This is equally true of the Referees Association. During the “off season” your Executive have been exceptionally busy in putting in place new structures and amending others with the objective of up skilling all our referees for the coming season. We are striving to have all our referees refereeing to their optimum level.
To this end the Assessing Teams and Referee Groups have been changed. The number of groups has been reduced to six. Two Liaison Officers, Des McCabe and Tony deLacy, have been appointed. Their purpose is to allow referees to air their views, observations or “complaints” through their Area Representatives. This is attempting to create a clear line of communication for referees to ensure their voice is heard.
A new dedicated Coaching structure under the co-ordination of Donal Courtney has been put in place with five coaches. Referees for coaching will be determined by the Selection Committees and assessing team. This will be available to all referees at all grades.
Our Senior Development panels will be given selected matches. The objective is to have each of these referees assessed and coached twice pre-Christmas and post Christmas. The objective being to prepare them for possible entry to the I.R.F.U. IPAS System.
For the coming Season we have two new Area Reps. Ken Henley Willis in the Metro Area and Paddy Curran in the Midlands. Gerry Maher has agreed to co-ordinate laws meetings for the Areas. Topics for Area meetings will be agreed with the Area Reps. To ensure all meetings are getting the same message agreed topics will be presented to each area. This is not meant to disturb the individuality of each area as each topic will only comprise part of the meeting – the balance being used as each individual area sees fit.
While we strive at all levels to have a consistency in refereeing this is equally important from an assessing perspective. We have increased the number of Assessors in the last number of years. This has resulted in significantly increased assessments. We must ensure consistency from assessors and that new assessors are suitably coached in the art of assessing.
At times some members may feel, understandably so, that the concentration appears to be on younger referees who show promise. I would like to emphasise that all referees, at all levels, are equally important. We have players at all levels. This equally applies to referees. We have a responsibility to provide competent referees for all players. If you are one of these referees who sometimes feels “unloved” and on the periphery I can assure you are not. If you feel we are letting you down or ignoring you let us know through your Area Reps. – we will listen.
As President for the coming Season my enjoyment of this special year will be directly linked to the extent to which we help all members to achieve their goals and maximise their enjoyment of the Season.
In conclusion I would like to wish all members an enjoyable and successful Season in whatever capacity you serve the Association.