UEFA continues to nurture its young referees, and the latest recruits to the European body's talents and mentors programme gather for their latest course in Nyon this week.
Under this ambitious and long-standing programme, promising young officials get expert help in their development from experienced former international referees. Twenty-four referees will be in Nyon this week as UEFA looks to help them along their career path.
The young referees and assistants – the talents – are fostered by their experienced mentors. The mentors remain in constant contact with their referees by email or phone, and by either visiting them or inviting them to the mentors' respective countries. Their discussions centre on matters including match performances, diet, general conduct and communication in English, which is UEFA's refereeing language.
UEFA will explain its talents and mentors philosophy at the course. It takes the viewpoint that young referees and assistants should be treated in the same way as young football players. Footballers learn and profit positively from the guidance given to them by experienced coaches, and up-and-coming match officials also benefit from the experience of referees who have collected wisdom throughout their own careers.
More than 150 talents from throughout the UEFA member associations have been through the UEFA programme over the past 11 years, and a number of referees who were part of the talents and mentors scheme have gone on to take charge of matches at the highest international club and national-team levels.
The course will feature a practical training session, and will also deal with topics such as simulation, on-field management, handball and serious foul play, while UEFA's refereeing unit will give recommendations to help the young referees.
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