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Respect the Ref: Tim Sadler

Marketing & Communications
Match Officials are essential for grassroots football to thrive.

Match Officials are essential for grassroots football to thrive.

We put some questions to local match official, Tim Sadler, about his experiences within grassroots football, the reasons he loves refereeing and why it is vital to respect the ref:


What is your refereeing story?

I got into refereeing at the age of 14 after figuring my playing ability was never going to be good enough. To stay involved in the game one of my Dad's co-workers, Derek Richardson who was a referee encouraged me to take the course. I completed a course at the then NCFA Headquarters ran by tutors Richard King, Dennis O'Brien and Jeff Nurse. The rest as they say is history and I have been an active referee ever since, regularly taking appointments locally as an 11-a-side referee and nationally as a futsal referee, taking me all across the country.

What do you enjoy about refereeing?

I love that it keeps me actively involved in football and futsal but also that I have been able to officiate at a much higher level as a referee than I ever would have been able to as a player. I have been lucky enough to officiate nationally on many futsal games and internationally at the Cerebral Palsy World Games in 2015. The support throughout my journey and the camaraderie you grow with fellow match officials and other participants within refereeing is great. I have formed many new friendships for life through being a referee and being a member of the Referee Association. 

Refereeing has also taught me many life skills such as leadership, teamwork, people management and how to work under pressure. All of these things I have been able to use in my work life outside of football/futsal.

What is your favourite moment as a referee?

I have been lucky enough to have many highlights as a referee, officiating in County Cup Finals, international youth futsal friendlies at St Georges Park and the Cerebral Palsy World Games 2015. But my best highlight was officiating at the Women’s FA Futsal Cup Finals weekend in 2018.

What advice would you give to someone considering or starting refereeing?

Do it! You will not regret it! I was very cautious about joining the dark side as a referee, but it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Life is very busy, and I won't hide away that I have had some mental health issues. I am naturally a very introverted person, but refereeing has been one of my escapes which I really enjoy and has made me a lot more outgoing and extroverted. It has made me comfortable enough to be the person I am today. The support within football from fellow referees, Norfolk FA and the Referee Association is the best it has ever been, and it is a great time to get involved.

What have you got to lose!?


To read more about the ‘Respect the Ref’ campaign please click here.


We are delighted to announce that we will be running two courses at our Football Development Centre in Norwich as part of a January sale special offer!

Both of the opening courses of 2022 are currently priced at £85, offering a 30% discount to anybody who books by January 31st.

The first course will take place on the 4th and 6th February and the second will take place on the 18th and 20th February. Further details, including online booking information can be found on our Referee pages. 


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