Medway referees get fighting fit
Medway referees get fighting fit

The Medway Referees’ Association have had military assistance in getting fit this season after recruiting a Royal Engineers endurance training instructor.Medway Referees 620x349

The sessions, part-funded by the Kent FA, are a way for the local referees to get match fit under the watchful eye of Chris, an army instructor who serves full-time with the Royal Engineers TA regiment based in Rochester.

Andy Shepherd of the Medway Referees Society and Referee Secretary to the Medway Messenger Sunday League, started the sessions in January this year as an opportunity for referees to improve their fitness in-season.

“We felt there was a need for a fitness session for referees, where a group of us can train together.

“We get an average of 15 people each session, everybody seems to enjoy it and Chris makes sure we all push ourselves”

Shepherd was also impressed with the range of abilities and ages that had been attracted to the sessions.

“We get a wide range of ages, from younger lads with the Kent FA Referees Academy through to the 60-odd year olds”

John Poulton is Chair of the Medway Referees Association and, at almost 64, was the oldest at the session.

“Chris puts us through our paces.  It’s certainly better than training on your own, you get the comradeship and social element of it when there’s a group of you.  When you referee you’re out on your own so it’s good to have a fitness session where we can train as a group.”

Instructor Chris, a full-time TA soldier and endurance training instructor said there were differences between taking the referees and a military physical training session.

“It’s a change from giving a beasting to soldiers, and adapting to it has been a challenge.  We have a range of ages and abilities, some with old injuries, but they are a good bunch and want to work hard.”

The sessions, on the athletics track at Medway Park Sports Centre, start with a warm-up before the group split according to age, ability and motivation, with the group who volunteer for the harder session given Chris’ special attention.

It’s not all regimented running though, and the sessions are tailored to match the physical demands on an official during match play.

Tom Vandepeer, who officiates in the Kent League and Kent Invicta League, sees the sessions as an important development tool for referees and could encourage more officials to progress on the grading pathway.

“Fitness tests are part of the referee promotion process so it’s good for those who want to progress.  It might even persuade some refs who weren’t thinking of going for promotion that they might be able to apply.”

Kent FA Referees Development Officer Nick Dunn praised the initiative of the Medway officials in getting this project off the ground.

“Football players work to improve their skills and fitness so they can perform better in matches, and referees are no different.  The sessions that run are a great way for the officials to improve their fitness and I’d encourage more referees to get involved with it.  These sessions complement the excellent fitness sessions that already run at Ashford’s Julie Rose Stadium on a Thursday evening.”

Referees fitness sessions at Medway Park run from 7.30pm on Wednesday evenings on the outdoor athletics track.  For more details on the sessions or refereeing in Kent contact Nick Dunn on [email protected]

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