Adam Fielding has been a Hyundai A-League referee since 2014 and has previously refereed in the English Football League.
Adam has twice been named the WA Referee of the Year and shares some of his insights on being an elite referee in the Hyundai A-League.
How did you become involved in refereeing?
At the age of 17 I fractured my patella playing football in the League of Wales and whilst having my leg in a full length cast, I decided to take the referee’s course. After months of physio I came back into football, both playing and refereeing, and was placed on numerous FA national training programmes. However, it was very difficult doing both each weekend, especially as I was getting cautioned each week whilst playing. So I made a decision to concentrate on my refereeing because I wasn’t the best player and wanted to be involved with football at the highest level.
Can you describe a week in the life of an A-League referee?
The biggest part of refereeing in the A-League is maintaining your fitness and match sharpness during the season. Hence, I train several times in the week after work with the other National List guys in WA. We are very lucky in the West to have the national training instructor who puts us all through our paces during the week. Based on appointments my training programme will change to suit travel and match demands.
What do you do to keep a balance between your personal, professional and refereeing life?
This is probably the most challenging element of being a match official on the A-League, the 90 minutes is the easy part. I have always found by telling people, whether that be work or family, information as soon as you get it helps and not leaving it until the last minute. I am very fortunate that my family and work are supportive with my refereeing.
How do you keep focused during a match and not let emotions influence decisions?
Remaining calm and collective during matches comes with experience but I do have a few things I do during matches to keep my focus. Unfortunately for the other officials on the game, I do talk to myself during the game, and because of the communication equipment, the other guys hear it all!
In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in football in recent years?
Having spent 8 years refereeing in England, the biggest change I have noticed in football over the years is expectation of fouls and cautions. Coming through the ranks in England, the game was definitely more physical with more players committing reckless tackles. I believe the modern game is very much more technical now and players are holding back in challenges and standing their ground.
What is the key to building positive relationships with players and coaches?
I would love to see players train with match officials once or twice a month and then socialise afterwards, whether that be lunch or a recovery session. This would definitely help build relationships with players and managers, and would break down any ‘them and us’ attitude.
What do you consider to be the most important characteristic of an elite referee?
Leadership! Especially as I am the only A-League referee in Western Australia, I have to help and guide the younger referees coming through. Remaining professional and leading by example will hopefully drive the appetite for the young guys to work hard and meet their goals.
What match or moment stands out as a highlight in your refereeing career?
For me this isn’t the biggest game or the biggest crowd, but the most unique game I have been part of. Five years ago I refereed a national final in England, but 2 hours before kick-off I was shopping on a Saturday afternoon unknown that I was going to be refereeing. I remember getting the phone call from the appointments secretary saying the referee has broken down on the motorway and can’t make the game! “Can you do it?” At that moment, panic, nerves, excitement set in! I quickly drove home, packed my bag and headed to the ground. I arrived 30 minutes before kick-off and the stadium was packed! The adrenaline was going full tilt and the atmosphere in the ground was excellent. The game went well with no problems, but I still remember that phone call in the shops!