Getting started


So whom do you turn to for advice? Although refereeing may seem like an individual role, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. You will, in fact be part of the North of Scotland Referees Association team.

You will find that no two games are ever quite the same and that it is important and helpful to discuss your experiences and development with an experienced Referee. As part of your initial development, you will be appointed a “mentor” who will guide you along the way. The mentor’s role will be to get you actively involved in refereeing, and provide you with support and assistance during your initial probationary period. As well as attending a few of your games, he will also keep in regular contact and provide you with any information or help with any queries you may have. It is also important that you maintain contact with him, as two-way communication is important.


Some of the topics that your mentor will cover with you are:-

Structure of refereeing in Scotland.
How the Association deals with placing of members in various Leagues i.e. twice annually review meetings.
The Role of Association Managers.
Meetings and Training.
Dress codes for meetings and matches.
Acceptance of appointments / notifying of unavailable dates.
Arrival at games.
Field inspections.
Dealing with team lines.
Inspection of players’ equipment.
Pre match instructions.
Match records.
Misconduct Forms / reports.

So after you have passed the Referees entrance exam you will be ready to put the theory and learning into practice!

Listed below are the various Leagues that are open for your involvement.

North Caledonian League: This is a League, which is registered with the Scottish Football Association and is made up of teams from throughout the Highlands. Namely, Halkirk United, Inverness Athletic, Invergordon, Bonar Bridge, Orkney, Bunilidh Thistle, Tain St Duthus, Golspie Sutherland and Thurso. (It is the equivalent of Junior Leagues in other Areas) The season starts in August and runs all the way through to May. A Referee and 2 Assistant Referees cover matches in this League. It is likely you will begin your refereeing career in the North Caledonian League, initially as an Assistant Referee. Officiating at this level is considered an excellent learning platform, offering a wealth of experience whilst providing you with a good grounding in the basics of your new vocation.

So how do you get involved? A member of the Management Committee will advise you on the way forward and on how to go about taking your first steps into the world of refereeing. They will make your details available to the North Caledonian League Secretary, who appoints the officials in this League, and, who is well aware of the need for providing new members with the opportunities to gain experience.

When you are appointed to a game, at least two days before the match, contact should be made with the Referee to make arrangements for the day of the fixture. Contact details of the Referees can be found in the Association handbook, which can be obtained from Association Secretary. The Referee will make arrangements with you for transport to the game, normally officials travel together in one car.

Usually, you will get to the ground about an hour before the game kicks off. This will give you and the Referee time to inspect the pitch, warm up and generally prepare for the match.

The dress code for the North Caledonian League is shirt and tie. Should you wish to purchase an official Scottish Football Association tie, speak to the Treasurer of the Association.

Youth Development Initiative: New and developing referees have the opportunity to become involved in Refereeing in the Development Leagues of the Highland Football League, Scottish Premier and Football Leagues and these games provide a very good grounding for those who may have just passed the Entrance examination. The Development Leagues constitutions state that the game should be non competitive and no points are awarded, thus they provide a stage for Referees to gain experience whilst technically they should be under no pressure. The structure of the game is three periods of play with stoppages to allow for coaching. Exact details will be provided to those who become involved. Where possible your mentor will come along to watch and give advice.

Youth League/Street League: During the Summer in Inverness, Street and Youth leagues are run for the younger players in the City. These again are very good leagues in which to gain experience as well as helping to put something back into the game. Is is recommended that newly qualified referees assist in these Leagues.

Summer Welfare/Amateur Football: The summer season starts in April and finishes in September. There are plenty of different leagues to get involved in locally, (Inverness & District Amateur, Ross-Shire Amateur, Forres & Nairn Welfare and Strathspey & Badenoch Welfare Leagues). Check at training or at the monthly meetings before putting your name forward for a Summer Football League. Think about it and speak to someone before hand. Beware not to bite off more than you can chew at this stage, do not get involved in doing too difficult a game, which at this stage could affect your confidence.

Highland League: Show the relevant attributes such as correct attitude, ability, application, enthusiasm and attendance at training and monthly meetings and there could be opportunities to get involved in the Highland Football League in the future. It is up to you!!!!!!



Children & Vulnerable Adults
The Association supports and requires the following good practice with children and vulnerable adults: The Code of Conduct details the standards and practice required by all members when in contact with children and vulnerable adults. These are categorised into good practice; practice to be avoided; practice never to be sanctioned; and safe practice in unforeseen circumstances. If there is a suspicion or allegation of non-compliance by a member with this Code the member will be dealt with through the Association’s Procedure for Managing Allegations of Abuse of a Child or Vulnerable Adult against a member and/or the Association’s Disciplinary Procedures.

Good Practice
Assist in making football fun, enjoyable and promote fair play.

Always work in an open environment e.g. avoid private or unobserved situations and encourage an open environment for activities.

Treat all children and vulnerable adults equally, with respect and dignity.

Be an excellent role model including not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of children or vulnerable adults.

Maintain a safe and appropriate distance from children and vulnerable adults off the field, both pre and post match. e.g. do not have an intimate relationship.

When you have concerns over potential abuse, you should seek Child Protection Advice.

Practice to be Avoided
Avoid physical contact, handling etc. at matches, in the dressing rooms or on the pitch, except with the following qualification. – the separation of players where the use of hands on a player may be appropriate for the purposes of restraint only minimum force should be used to resolve the situation and preferably as quickly as possible. This should be done with others present. Such restraint should only be used where other players are at risk or yourself.

Avoid having favourites; this could lead to resentment and jealousy by other children or vulnerable adults and could be a cause for false allegations.

Avoid taking children to your home.

Practice never to be sanctioned
Never engage in any form of inappropriate touching.

Never make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.

Never reduce a child to tears as a form of control.

Never allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.

Never invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.

Never make discriminatory remarks e.g. racist remarks.

Race and Racism
The Scottish Football Association has in place an on-going campaign called Show Racism the Red Card, which is fully supported by the Association.