Hyundai A-League officials Alex King, Ben Abraham and Rick Schneider recently concluded the third instalment of Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) referee exchange program with the Premier Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
Following the success of the 2015 exchange, King, Abraham and Schneider travelled to the UK for a two week development trip under the guidance of FFA Elite Referees Coach Eugene Brazzale.
Aimed at continuing to develop the skills of Australia’s next generation of referees, King, Abraham and Schneider – who are all on the Hyundai A-League 4th Officials panel – had the opportunity to train with and learn from some of the Premier League’s top referees including Martin Atkinson, Michael Oliver and Bobby Madley.
Speaking on his return Abraham praised the exchange program as a phenomenal experience.
“It is tough to put into words how much value the PGMOL exchange offers. The past few weeks we have lived, breathed and consumed football, incorporating many facets of referee development and learning from some of the best referees in the world," Abraham said.
In addition to the practical and theoretical training sessions each referee was appointed to two Premier League U-23’s matches as part of the program and received feedback and coaching from the country’s leading referee instructors.
King echoed Abraham’s sentiments and agreed he returned as a stronger referee thanks to the experiences gained in England.
“We were able to hear, share and learn about experiences from referees at the highest level. We got an insight at how referees approached their matches in respect to training, video analysis and tactical approaches," King said.
“Match management for me is a key learning. We saw situations in matches where in certain situations can be managed rather than other courses of action and examples of referees showing more empathy towards players and understanding why players can get frustrated with decisions during a match.”
This referee exchange follows on from the visit of English referees Stuart Attwell and Peter Bankes to Australia in August. As well as refereeing PlayStation4 National Premier League matches in Melbourne and Sydney, Attwell and Bankes shared their knowledge and experiences with grassroots referees at a number of referee meetings.
FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson highlighted the wider ranging importance of the exchange program with the PGMOL and the benefits for Australian football.
“In addition to the development opportunity Alex, Ben and Rick experienced the FFA-PGMOL Exchange Program also plays an important role in developing and shaping FFA’s referee coaching, education and development pathway programs for the next generation of referees," Wilson said.