Linlithgow Rose Community Football Club currently offer a relatively new and unique initiative to young people who are keen and passionate about becoming a referee within Scotland. Programmes of this type are few and far between throughout Scotland, and Linlithgow Rose can be seen as pioneers of this new approach to introducing young people into wider participation within football.
The programme offers an alternative route into football or the starting point to a life as a referee, allowing them to learn the game correctly and giving them an opportunity to further their careers. It also provides kids with an extra opportunity within Scottish football to utilize programmes of this kind as another way of tapping into their passion for football.
Linlithgow Rose encourage participants of the programme to learn their trade in soccer sevens whilst discovering the credentials a referee is required to have and then to go on and take the referee exam. This then allows them to graduate and develop into a fully qualified referee.
Personal skills are also developed whilst being involved within the programme as the young kids receive confidence and encouragement in abundance. The initiative unarguably goes a long way to help building self-confidence, self-motivation, self-esteem and plenty of respect.
The programme is now moving into its third full year and has proved to work wonders on two fronts for Linlithgow Rose. Not only did it offer the participants some education, and help get them interested in football, but it also solved the issue of finding referee’s to cover their seven-a-side home games.
The refereeing initiative has been seen as a major success story within Linlithgow Rose CFC due to the fact 16 people in total have now graduated from the programme.
Club president, Billy McAdam said, “It has been one of the biggest successes during my time as club president and was made possible by all the backing I had. It is very easy just to concentrate on the playing side of things, but as a community club we have a responsibility to look beyond the playing fields and we feel this is what this programme achieves and supports the surrounding community.
“The programme is also teaching these young kids at the age of 16 the importance of earning some money through hard work and giving themselves self-confidence at the same time.
“We like to see ourselves as a forward thinking club and if other clubs want to introduce something like this then I would thoroughly encourage them to do so.
“The most important word within our name is not ‘football’, it’s not ‘Linlithgow Rose’ it’s ‘Community’ and we have to do as much as we possibly can for everybody within our local community and this programme offers that to youngsters.”
The programme that was set up to simply fill a gap due to the lack of referees, will now always run and for as long as possible. It has evolved and grown into a vital component of the club providing that crucial link between the football club and the people of Linlithgow.
Due to the overwhelming success of the initiative, Linlithgow Rose are looking to expand and move forward using other areas such as coaching and first-aid, again both other possible routes into the Scottish game. If these reach anywhere as near the levels of success the refereeing programme has exhibited then they will also undoubtedly prove to be useful commodities for the community, club and Scottish football at large.
David Drummond, the South East Regional Manager at the Scottish FA, said: “This project is yet another example of where Linlithgow Rose Community Football Club continue to raise the bar. As one of only three Legacy Awarded Quality Mark clubs in the South East region, yet again the club are delivering on initiatives that cater for more than just footballers.
"With the number of players continuing to grow across Scotland, it is imperative that we have enough referees to take charge of all this new activity. This initiative will not only provide alternative activity for their members, but they are also addressing the issue of having enough qualified referees to officiate matches for generations to come".