Gary Willard: Referees at Premier Skills very keen on learning

The third phase of the Premier Skills India referees’ workshop commenced on Tuesday at Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai. A total of 30 participants from across the country assembled for the three-day workshop facilitated by Gary Willard and Steve Bratt of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

The programme started off with a brief introductory session on the aims of the workshop. Willard and Bratt then conducted an interactive discussion on some of the fundamental areas of refereeing, including conflict resolution and remaining strong under pressure. The participants finally took to the pitch where they used the learnings from the morning session into practical use. They engaged themselves in a series of fun activities and drills before heading back for another theoretical session on handball.

Before signing off for the day, Willard and Bratt spoke to on their first impressions of the participants as well as their aims for the workshop. Willard, a former referee of the Premier League, was very impressed with the knowledge that the Indian referees possessed and their passion to keep learning. “They are a group of young coaches who have already got a lot of knowledge and skills for refereeing. They are very keen to learn and understand more. They are also very keen to learn not only from myself and Steve, but also from each other. Some have already identified their strengths, which others see as their development areas.”

The Englishman also shed some light on some of the aspects that will be most focused on during the three-day workshop. “I think what we are looking to do in the Phase 3 workshop is to move away from simply learning the laws of the game, (and) to work out how you apply those laws practically. So an awful lot of what we’ll be working out today and over the next two days is practical learning on the pitch and the classroom. It is making them into referees that can communicate well with players, technical staff, assistant referees and fourth officials.”

Bratt spoke about the importance and difficulty of maintaining complete focus during a high-intensity game. “It is very, very important that the referees maintain their focus. Incidents and game-changing situations can happen at any time and the referee has to be fully prepared and fully expected to deal with those situations accurately. There are lots that can be put to place. Lots of measures that referees can do which will give them the best opportunity to maintain their full focus in a 90-minute game, which will lead to making correct decisions.”

The referees will continue to hone their skills as they participate in a series of workshops and practical sessions before concluding with a football festival on Friday.

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