Francisco Fardilha recently officiated at the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Futsal Finals which were held at St Georges Park, Burton upon Trent.
This was an excellent appointment for Francisco and recognises his experience involved in Futsal.
Francisco also recently wrote a blog piece about his experiences:
A Portuguese referee abroad
When two years ago I came to Scotland to undertake a MSc in Sports Coaching at the University of Stirling, I could not imagine I would be writing these lines. I had no football refereeing experience, and had spent the previous 11 years of my life coaching and refereeing futsal, a very popular sport in Southern Europe, South America, and Asia.
During my first year in Stirling, I was the Head Coach for the University of Stirling’s Futsal Club, being responsible for managing both Men’s and Women’s teams. Despite a very successful season, the time and energy requirements of my activity as a coach – which included planning and delivering coaching sessions, reviewing matches, and training recordings, as well frequent overnight stays in England for away matches, booking facilities, etc. – started having a negative impact on my studies. So, when applying for a PhD in Sports Studies, I have decided to stop coaching and took up a football refereeing course for personal enrichment.
The course was very informative, and I liked the professionalism and enthusiasm of the lecturers – Stephen Finnie, Craig Charleston, Alastair Grieve and Colin Drummond. So, when it ended, there was no other option but to ‘give it a try’.
From the nervousness of the first match – especially due to being on my own having to judge offside offences – I slowly started to gain confidence and to enjoy my role as a referee. In comparison to Portugal, the pitches in which youth football is played in Scotland have less conditions and much less spectators, but players and coaches’ behaviour is in general better.
Being a researcher in Sports Coaching and having been a coach myself, I try to show empathy to coaches and players, explaining my decisions clearly when that does not interfere with match fluidity and fair-play. I have found that Scottish people are very passionate about football but overall fair in the way they discuss the Game, even if it means sometimes making harsh self-judgements.
This first year has not been without mistakes. The silliest one (that I have noticed) was in an U13’s match: just a few minutes after starting the 2nd half, the ball is played from a corner kick into the penalty area. A defender involuntarily blocks his own goalkeeper in the goal area and when the attacker is ready to tap the ball into the goal, I blow the whistle to give a foul in favour of the defending team. It did not take me a second to understand my brain had tricked me but thankfully both players and managers were understanding.
One of the things that has struck me the most so far is the existence of a meritocratic environment. From the beginning I was told that if I trained hard, attended the weekly sessions, meetings and kept developing my technical skills, I would be given the opportunity to progress. This has meant that over the past few months, having tried to ‘tick’ all those ‘boxes’, I have been fortunate to train alongside former international officials, and current and future category 1 referees (we have some in the making!). I have also been given the opportunity to take part in Club Academy Scotland matches, to be an assistant in Women’s Premier League matches and most recently to referee BUCS matches.
This week I had my first match with assistants and despite the combination of joy and anxiety, it made me understand that I am still at the beginning of the journey. There is still a lot to learn and it goes way beyond the book of the Laws of the Game or the fitness tests. It is fundamental to invest in becoming familiar with the context and culture of players and coaches and to learn from more experienced colleagues the ‘tricks of the trade’ – e.g. managing own and others’ emotions while in situations of stress.
Having a lot to learn is humbling but at the same time makes me very enthusiastic. I do not yet know where I am aiming at, but wherever my refereeing career goes, I can only be grateful that I am part of Stirlingshire RA and feel so welcome in Scotland.