Young referees take part in Football trip to Holland

Well done to Brandon Mersh and Sam Long who impressed everyone whilst officiating around 65% of games on a football trip to Holland.

Brandon and Sam give us an insight into their experience visiting Holland:

Brandon: “We were selected to go to Holland to referee two tournaments over the space of three days on behalf of Nottingham Forest Development Centre. On our first day of refereeing we were at Veenendaal, Holland the two grounds are called Dovo and Gvvv. These two grounds were so close that only a road and a small car park was separating them from each other. The tournament was really well organised and over the day we both officiated 6 games each. There were teams from Academies being represented by big clubs around Europe such like Utrecht, Barcelona, Ipswich Town, KSC Lokeren and many more. By the end of the day the organisers gave us some fantastic feedback and invited us back next year. We were chuffed to bits. 

“The second tournament took two days and it was held in Hengelo. This tournament was more or less the same but this had a lot more teams so there was a lot more refereeing involved. Over the two days Sam and I refereed more Dutch vs Dutch than Forest vs Dutch so this meant we had to use strong hand signals and explain more things with our hands/arms. At the end of the second day Sam and I got asked to line the very last match of the day which was a final. This was played in a small stadium called Pax which was a great experience for us both. 

“To summarise my whole experience over the Easter weekend I had a fantastic time and I absolutely loved it and I am looking forward to hopefully going back next year as both tournament organisers have invited both Sam and I to go back, so I cannot wait for that.”

Sam: “I was a bit nervous to start with, as I have only been refereeing since Sept 16, and only passed my upgrade from mini-soccer 2 weeks before the Tournament. To then be given Nottingham Forest (GDC) v Barcelona (Soccer School) as my first match seemed a bit unreal…especially as both teams were in full Team colours, with plenty of very vocal supporters.

“I have learned so much from this trip. I know myself, I made a few mistakes but I feel I have learned from them and will use this knowledge to improve my performance as a referee. I know for sure that my confidence has grown.

“To be asked by the Tournament organisers to come back again next year was fantastic, and I hope both me and Brandon are given that chance.”

Simon Haywood, Co-ordinator of the event was extremely pleased with Brandon’s and Sam’s efforts throughout the trip. He commented “I personally was really impressed by both referees add received endless compliments from players, parents and coaching staff regarding their professionalism and competence throughout all the games.

“Brandon was clearly confident in the centre with immediate decisive decisions and great communication, regardless of any language barriers. He coped really well and earned respect as the weekend went on.

“Sam was a pleasure to work with; he was cheerful and confident in his approach to every game which led me to become extremely surprised when hearing this was his first season as a referee. When a referee believes in his own decisions this soon passes on a message to the players and I believe both young men got this message across early which helped us enjoy a weekend of great, fair football. They were a credit to The FA and themselves”.

We are extremely proud of both Brandon and Sam and the praise they have received.

If you want to get involved in refereeing yourself, follow this link for more information.
Or contact: or 01159837415






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