Check out my interview with Barbados FIFA referee Adrian Skeete who talks about his path to officiating in the game, his experiences and even offers some tips to the youngsters…
1) I guess the easiest place to start is, how exactly did you get into refereeing in the first place?
“I have always loved sports. I played cricket and football in my teens, and when it came time to go to trials, it was clear that I was not ready for to be a professional. In the UK I always like having the authority of being in the middle in the local park football games, but I never thought about taking it a step further and joining my local referee association. It’s only after my girlfriend, now wife, convinced me to come Barbados, that I saw the passion the local referees had for the game. A senior referee, Winston Pinder, introduced me to youth football, and within 3 months I was refereeing my first Division 1 game; I’ve never looked back.”
2) Did you always have aspirations of becoming a FIFA Referee or not?
“To be honest, no. I had not researched how far you can go. It’s only when I started training with my local association, and my first fitness test came, that “The List” became the talking point for referees. Only then did I start to take it more seriously, training harder, and improving my natural fitness, and taking it to the next level.”
I would recommend that anyone not the best at football, but loves the game, becomes a referee
3) What are the major contrasts in refereeing a game in Barbados to elsewhere?
“The Barbadian league is a well organised one, with four divisions and several hundreds active players and referees. As with any developing island, financing and maintaining such a league can be of a great difficulty to the local associations I believe financial incentives from the private sector and government, similar to what was put in place in the leagues of Trinidad and Jamaica, can make the league professional and give our young talent a chance to focus and flourish.”
4) How often do you train?
“I am in training 4-5 days a week on a strict FIFA training plan, utilizing on the filed drills, and recovery and injury prevention techniques. We also regularly complete FIFA Interval test, and the new Yoyo test (almost like the multistage fitness (bleep test).”
5) You officiated in last year’s Caribbean Cup qualification. What was that experience like?
“Amazing, we were in Guyana and Trinidad, and it is always a pleasure to visit our sister islands and do what we love. It is a real privilege to be giving this opportunity from FIFA and CFU; working with amazing assessor, and match commissioners and having a first hand view of what goes into a top class tournament. It honestly makes me hungry for success, you get adrenaline rush when to step on the field, and when you leave it at the end of 90 minutes, you want more. You aim for greatness: it makes you work harder, train harder, drive your body to levels you never thought possible. I would recommend that anyone not the best at football, but loves the game, becomes a referee.”
6) You say you dream of being the best in the world at your job. How are you going about reaching that?
“I do this by keeping three major influences in my life:
One is my faith, I pray for God’s blessing everyday, on myself and my family, and that he bestows greatness upon me and my refereeing team (we pray together before every match).
Two is the LOTG, we call it “The Book” it’s our guidance to how we should officiate on the field of play. Applying these laws with practical application will enable the game to be enjoyed as FIFA intended by all.
Lastly, but no less important than the others, is my training. Training with my peers, with other referees on the same path to greatness as me. I immerse myself in training, not only physically, but mentally. I train regularly with the top fellow referees in my country, Trevor Taylor, Adrian Goddard, and Clifton Garnes. We utilize and discuss FIFA’s training videos, match analysis and match incidents, and test ourselves to correctly identify FIFA’s definitions of the LOTG, so we are prepared for any and every eventuality on the field of play.”
I like to use the motto “let adversity be your catalyst to greatness”
7) Your hairiest moment as a referee?
“I’d rather not say at this stage in my career, maybe when I hang up my boots and right my memoirs. But just like with any other hairy moment, a challenge, a hurdle, it can be overcome. I have overcome my moments, and so can anyone. I like to use the motto “let adversity be your catalyst to greatness”; and that is what I have done and will continue to do. I use those moments, as well as my good ones, to fuel the fire inside and reach for greatness.”
8) The most important trait as an officiator?
“Practical application of the laws of the game. You can be fit, you can know all 17 of FIFA laws of the game but unless you know how to apply them with the spirit of the game and be practical, you cannot succeed.”
9) With the World Cup looming, are you aware yet of any potential involvement in Brazil?
“My involvement in the upcoming World Cup will only be the qualifying matches that took place in 2011 and 2012. My team had some amazing trips to stadiums in St. Kitts, Suriname, and Belize. Even at that time FIFA had already selected and earmarked the referees going to Brazil 2014. FIFA train referees well in advance, and them shortlist and select the chosen few for the worlds greatest tournament.”
10) Finally, what advice would you issue to any young, budding referees out there? Especially in Barbados…
“Commitment, drive, and enthusiasm will take you places in any field of life. Apply this to refereeing in this region, and the world is your oyster. Do as many games as possible so you understand the game so much so that it become second nature to you. The opportunities for women are exceptional, for men it is a challenge. But as with every challenge you can and will overcome.”
By Nathan Carr
Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave any constructive feedback in the comments box below. Big up to Adrian for taking the time out of his busy schedule. You can get in touch with me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.