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Focus on FIFA Referee: Cheryl Foster

International playing career - I represented Wales at youth level, gaining caps at U16, U18 and U21 level. However I made my senior international debut in 1997 at 17 years old, coming on as a substitute against Ireland. I represented Wales 63 times, competing in World Cup and Euro qualifiers over a 15 year period. I had the privilege of captaining my country on my 50th Cap against Slovenia in Llanelli and in 2009 I became the all-time record appearance holder for 2 years. The highlight of my international career was playing for Wales against Germany in front of 20,000 spectators.


Club playing career - At club level I started my career playing football for a local boys team called Conwy Devils before signing for Bangor City Ladies at the age of 15 winning the Welsh Cup twice which allowed me to taste European football at club level of the first time and the league twice. In the summer of 2003, I signed for Liverpool Ladies winning the league and getting promotion to the National Division in my first season. I continued to play for Liverpool for a further 9 years which included playing in the Women’s Super League scoring the very first goal in the opening game of the season against Everton Ladies. I then moved onto Doncaster Bells in my last season (2013)

as a player before taking the Laws of the Game course in the North East Wales referees association.

Moving to refereeing and becoming a FIFA referee - I always thought I would be a coach or manager when I retired from playing; it was always a passion of mine to stay in the game. When I stopped playing in 2013 a conversation I had with Cliff Evans back when I was playing for Wales in Switzerland returned to me. He asked over lunch one day would any of us be interested in refereeing when we finished playing. I hadn’t then but the more I thought about what I wanted to do, the more I felt I could make a contribution and it would give me that chance to be get back on the pitch! But I didn’t think things would move so fast that I’d be a UEFA referee by my third season and it has been a steep learning curve and an amazing challenge.


Once I took part in the Laws of the Game course and completed it in November 2013. I started refereeing in the Flintshire junior leagues and my first men’s game was assisting at Saltney Town in January 2014. Since the course I have been part of the NEWRA mentoring programme as well at the development team which I have benefited from immensely.


The opportunities for future female referees is huge and the possibilities of what I could achieve as a referee were explained to me very quickly at the start and within three seasons I have achieved what I set out to do, become a FIFA referee. To do this, I have attended every possible meeting and seminar that I could. I ask a lot of questions and find the answers to the very strange but possible scenarios that could occur during a football match. I have lent heavily on my experience as a player but when I referee or assist I take at least one thing from every game into the next one to try and improve.


Another aspect I think is really important especially refereeing in the men’s league and FIFA games is a referee’s fitness level. As a former forward my fitness requirements changed and I work hard in the gym to meet these new demands. I now have the fitness levels of a box to box midfielder ensuring that I am there when a player looks round for a decision or non-decision.

Martin Williams


Married to Carla for over 20 yrs with 2 refereeing children in Geraint (17) & Sian (15). Put it to Carla several years ago to come refereeing but, alas, it was a resounding "NO"!


Did you play football prior to refereeing?

I played Sunday League football for Brymbo Steelworks at "The Crick" but, as the manager was my brother-in-law he felt that he didn't want to show favouritism by playing me so it was start, score and get subbed. Then dropped to bench, come on and score and dropped again! I couldn't play - I could just score goals.


So when did you start refereeing and why? 

I felt that I was too old to play in my 30's so took the Laws of the Game course and started reffing in the Autumn 1998.

1st game was a nice easy derby of The Caernarfon v Amble Inn which one of them won 3-0 with a couple of off-side goals allowed. My first yellow card was to a local celebrity who drove my patience by constantly moving the ball forward on a free-kick and on the 3rd time I took his name - Mr. STUART MASON.


What do you consider to be your top appointments?

I've been lucky enough to pick up most of the finals within my grasp which have included:

Welsh Cup at Llanelli Scarlets ground

Welsh Premier League Cup

NEWFA Saturday Challenge Cup at The Racecourse 

NEWFA Bob Williams Sunday Challenge Cup

WNL Premier Div. Cup

Shelley Cup 

Youth Cup's at The Racecourse

but, pride of place (as a Wrexham fan) was when I was the referee for the Wrexham v Tranmere Rovers pre-season friendly which went well. Even Tomos Roberts nearly getting hit by a flare didn't spoil the day and gave us an extra memory.


Which referee has had the biggest influence on your career? 

All of the Referee's Officers I have had have each had an input of how to make me a "better" referee. They have either had a seat in their home or an ear on their phone to put me straight on an issue that had arose. Those RO's are Mr. Cliff Evans, Mr. Gerald Davies and Mr. Brian Bevan. I think Mr. Dave Fawkes has given up on me though.   


What is the best advice you have been given and what would your advice to young referees be? 

A certain Mr. Dave Blakely once said to me that "it's not your fault if someone does a yellow or a red card offence" and so I never looked back ha ha!

Advice I would give to new referee's would be to be as fit as you could possibly be as players don't tend to argue when you’re right on top of the foul/incident. Giving decisions from distance gets you grief and no credibility.


Do you have a refereeing motto? 

The old favourite really which is "fail to prepare - prepare to FAIL"! And as I know of at least 2 Welsh Prem ref's which have shown up to games with no shirt/kit then this motto is a must. 


Favourite food and music? 

As I am registered with Coeliac Disease (gluten-free diet) all my favourites have gone out of the window but I'd kill for a normal jam butty or a McChicken sandwich. As for my music taste, well, it's legendary across Wales isn't it?


And Finally… 

I wouldn't say I was respected as a referee but I would say that all players and managers know what they're going to get from me when they see me turn up. But, I'm happy to say that it's mainly Mart they call me now from most people rather than ref.



Phil Roszkowski


Phil comes from a Wrexham family well known in the football and tennis area and it is no surprise that he has carried on in the family tradition. He is now regarded as one of the senior referees in the area.


My wife’s name is Sue. I have three boys, Michael, Antony and Matthew and my running buddy my border collie, Lance.


Did you play football prior to refereeing?

Yes I played football from the early age of 9 yrs old representing junior/senior school, Wrexham and district school boys and also local youth teams such as Rhosnesni Rangers, Borras Park Albion.

Then I went into the Army and played for my Regiment. When I came out of the Army I played for works team Owens Corning Fiberglas in the Welsh National Premier League, Cymru Alliance League and in Sunday football for my local watering holes, such as The Acton, The Cunliffe Arms, Gate Hangs High but to name a few. (What memories!!!).

 

So when did you start refereeing and why? I started the Laws of the Game course in 1999 and started refereeing in the season 1999/2000. Reason I started refereeing was that I was a keen footballer playing up until the age of 35, and as I was a left  winger and pretty fast in those days no one could catch me but I was prone to get the odd late challenge when I was away with the ball.  Unfortunately, a few injuries started to occur and as I could not afford to take time off work through injury, I decided to give up the beautiful game.

It was in work that a colleague of mine (Steve Jones ex WPL Referee) convinced me that I would enjoy it and gave me the start date of the next Laws of the Game course which was Nov. 1999 in the Wrexham Library, which I attended and have never looked back since.

(Thank you Steve, I owe you one!).


What do you consider to be your top appointments?

My top appointments to date must be my two Welsh Cup Finals in 2008/09 and 2012/13. Recently I have been appointed to the Word Cup Final in the WPL this January 2015.


What is the best advice you have been given and what would your advice to young referees be?

Best advice I have been given is to enjoy what you do and however the game has gone keep smiling! The best advice I would give to a new starter would be "Don't try and run before you can walk". Set realistic goals and standards, watch and listen to the more experienced referee and pick out some points that may help you in your game. Last but not least keep a good standard of fitness level to progress to the higher level.


Which referee has had the biggest influence on your career?

The biggest influence during my refereeing career must be the two Brian's, Brian Lawlor of Holyhead and Brian Bevan of Wrexham. As mentioned earlier I picked some pointers up from the games I officiated  as Assistant Referee on the WPL. Brian Lawlor's man management skills were second to none and Brian Bevan's positioning and fitness, how he got around the pitch was amazing.


Do you have a refereeing motto?

My refereeing Motto is "Never let good enough BE enough!" (Always strive to do your best!).


Favourite food and music?

My favourite food is poached egg and beans on toast (Good pre-match grub).

My favourite Music is classic soul, Motown, Luther Vandross, Alexandra O'Neil. (Showing my age now!).


And Finally…

I would like to end by telling you about my "Mid Life Crisis" and how I have not long bought my boyhood dream car which is my pride and joy a Porsche Boxster S 3.2 litre Convertible, in Forest Green. Love driving it! What a machine! The morale of this "Mid Life Crisis" is If you really want something in life, go out and get it. You only live once!

Cliff Evans


Cliff Evans has been President of the North East Wales Referees’ Association since 1998 and is a highly respected person throughout the refereeing community of the Principality.

When did you start refereeing? 1969


What Leagues did you officiate in? Welsh National League, Northern Premier League and Central League.


What was the most important match in which you officiated? All of them as they are equally important to the players playing in them.


What was the best refereeing advice you received? Pack up refereeing if your performance is affected by comments from those off the pitch.


What advice would you offer? Only give what you see, be as close to the action as humanly possible, be confident, know the current Laws of the Game, ENJOY.


Do you have a refereeing motto?  You only get out of the game what you put into it.


What other roles do you or have you undertaken in refereeing?  I have been fortunate enough to be involved in various capacities.

Children? Two. Robert who lives in Brisbane with his wife and two daughters, Megan and Beth and Jane who lives in the Wrexham area with her husband Spencer.  

Martyn Colloby


Martyn Colloby is Chairman of the Association and although fast approaching retirement age is still refereeing on a regular basis in the Welsh National League.

He is also a Welsh FA qualified Referee Instructor who works on Laws of the Game courses for prospective referees under the organisation of North East Wales FA.


When did you start refereeing? 1981


Best refereeing experience? Linesman in Ian Rush Testimonial at Anfield - Liverpool v Celtic


Unusual appointment? Bangor City v Gretna in the FA Cup. Welsh team against Scottish team in English competition


Honours? Referee in NEWFA Challenge Cup Final, Cymru Alliance League Final, Horace Wynne Cup Final, Welsh National League Cup Final & Wrexham Sunday League Cup Final.


Wife's Name? Carole


Children? Two. Michael and Michelle.


Grandchildren? At the moment three. Alicia, Sienna and Haydn.

Focus on FIFA Referee:

Bryn Markham-Jones


When I began my refereeing career some 12 years ago, in no way did I expect to reach the heights I have reached. As many do, I only had the intentions of refereeing

junior football in an attempt to earn a little pocket money on a Saturday morning. Thankfully, a senior referee was able to convince me to ‘run the line’ for him one Saturday afternoon and I never looked back. From there, I became more involved in senior football and eventually began refereeing senior football matches.

My senior refereeing career progressed at a quick rate. It began in the Welsh National League (Wrexham area) reserve division at the age of 17 and by the age of 22, I found myself refereeing in the Welsh Premier League. With the right levels of commitment, performances and attitude it is possible to reach the heights of the Welsh Premier League and beyond in good time.


Refereeing on the Welsh Premier League proved to be a good test for me at the age of 22. The league has a lot of experienced footballers and managers present in it and I had to mature as a referee very quickly. It took me a good two years to find my feet in the league and from there I was looking forward to the next challenge – becoming a FIFA referee. Any referee’s dream.


During this period of development I was very fortunate to referee many matches outside of the Welsh Premier League. On two occasions I travelled to Northern Ireland to referee on their Premier League; I travelled to Scotland and refereed at Hampden Park as part of an exchange program with the Scottish FA; I also travelled to Malta where I took charge of one of their Premier League matches and in addition to these I refereed numerous Wales U16’s, U17’s and U19’s matches, some of which were aired lived on Sky Sports. Additionally, I travelled away on UEFA matches as 4th official. This just goes to show if you are not lucky enough to reach FIFA standards, you can still enjoy fantastic experiences as a referee in Wales.


February 2012 was a significant date as part of my push to become a FIFA referee. This is when I attended the Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE), which is run by UEFA at their headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. The CORE program has been designed to introduce prospective future FIFA referees to the standards and expectations placed upon them by UEFA. The program ran for 6 months and challenged me in a variety of ways, such as fitness assessments, decision making assessments, self-analysis of my refereeing performances and many more. Thankfully, I was successful in achieving a diploma in refereeing from UEFA in August 2012.


One afternoon in December 2012 I received the phone call I was hoping for. A phone call from the then referees’ manager, Rodger Gifford, informing me that I had been selected to become a FIFA referee for 2013 at the age of 26. Words cannot describe how proud I felt but I knew the hard work had only just started.


In January 2013 I travelled to Rome for the FIFA referees introductory course. None other than Pierluigi Collina headed the course. It was here I realised how big of an achievement it was to become a FIFA referee. Being a FIFA referee has provided me with life experiences that I’d never have experienced had it not been for refereeing. The people I have met, the places I have visited and the events I have witnessed. I travelled to some of the most obscure but amazing places imaginable. Up to now, I have visited a total of 21 different countries thanks to refereeing. Some examples include Faroe Islands, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Estonia. Had it not been for refereeing I am confident I would never have visited these countries. Hopefully, in the near future I will be able to visit more countries around the world.


My proudest achievement thus far as a FIFA referee was in November 2013. It was at this time that I travelled to the Czech Republic to officiate my 1st ever A international friendly. The Czech Republic are very well respected in international football so to have the opportunity to referee them was quite amazing. What made the event extra special was the fact that none other than Petr Cech captained the Czech Republic. At the time he was considered one of the best footballers in the world. When I was stood in the tunnel just about to lead the two teams out, I had to pinch myself to check it was real, a referee from Wrexham leading out one of the most famous footballers at the time. Unbelievable. At no point in my refereeing career did I ever expect to reach the heights of an international referee. Never did I expect that refereeing would be the reason I reduced my working hours to 50%. Never did I expect that I’d travel the whole of Europe. But, it has happened and it all thanks to refereeing. I will not be a FIFA referee forever. Wales will need FIFA referees in the future and there is no reason why it cannot by you. Somebody has got to do it. It may seem a long way away but with the correct attributes then it is certainly possible. I am proof of that.