Vincent Were shaking hands with players before a match on Harrod Sport Arena

Black History Month: Vincent Were Q & A

Marketing & Communications
We spoke to a local grassroots Match Official, Vincent Were on his thoughts and feelings on Black History Month.

Black History Month - Vincent Were Q & A

We spoke to a local grassroots Match Official, Vincent Were on his thoughts and feelings on Black History Month.

What is your background?

"My name is Vincent Were, I am a molecular biologist working at the Sainsbury laboratory in Norwich research Park where we investigate the genetics behind of how plants interact with pathogens. I am also a football fan for Arsenal, Norwich Fc, Exeter city Fc and AFC leopards (my team in Kenya). I am also a husband and a father. I was born in a small town called Kakamega in Kenya and did my early studies there, before moving to Australia and then here in the UK for further studies. I hold a PhD in biological sciences from University of Exeter and I moved to Norwich to work at my current position and that's how I found myself here. Most importantly Messi is GOAT J and better than the other guy."


Why did you start refereeing?

"Like most referees, I have played football since I was a kid but due to injuries I decided to stop playing and be a referee instead. If you love this game, you always want to be involved in one way or the other. I also know there is a shortage of referees because is not an easy job being a ref. I thought this will also give me an opportunity to keep fit, know more bit about Norwich because am not a local, above all make few pounds on the weekend. I also like grassroot football in general, I know without football at this level, we cannot get football at higher level, so yes let’s promote grassroot football!"


How have you found your referee experiences?

"Challenging, exciting and a lot of learning to do. It is not as straightforward as I thought it was going to be, you need a thick skin, be brave, decisive but still manage to sneak a smile when needed. I also didn’t realise how much talking, I will be talking on the field either giving instructions like “play on”, “no foul” etc. I have also realised it’s very important to know and understand laws of the game as some players will either challenge you or some genuinely don't know and want an explanation. Knowing and understanding laws of the game gives you confidence to enter that field take charge and control the game. That aside, for someone who was not born in Norwich, being a referee gives me opportunity to know Norwich and Norfolk better, especially when I am assigned games in the countryside."


What is your refereeing highlight?

"Being appointed one of Stuart Dracup Cup Final officials. Made me feel appreciated and challenged me to even do better and hope to be appointed again if I do well."


What would you say to anyone thinking about taking the referee course?

"Please come join us, of you love football and you want to contribute to the growth of this beautiful game then this is a good opportunity. You will meet very nice people in the referee community, helpful people, and good mentorship to grow as far as your potential takes you. It's fun but you must take it seriously."


What is Black History Month and why is it important to you?

"Reminds me of the importance of self-love, striving for happiness and appreciating friendship from different culture. Reminds me how far we have come as a community be bold to discuss issues and discrimination still exists today, but at the same time strive to achieve a great for everyone, and by that i mean a more inclusiveness."


Did you have a black role model in football growing up, who was it and why? What did this mean for you?

"I would have obviously gone for Thierry Henry for how he terrorised defenders in the premier league and brought joy to arsenal fans, but rather opt for Jay Jay Okocha. He really made me proud being African with all the skills, goals, flair typically associated with Brazilians and always played with a smile. I grew wanting to be the old school number 10 and always picked to wear No. 10 because of Okocha. I hope to meet him one day."


What advice would you give to any aspiring black person, looking to take up the whistle?

"I will tell them go for it, we need diversity everywhere and this is one place I feel we can improve, considering the high percentage of African players in the premier league and football academies everywhere in the world."


You can read more about Black History Month by clicking here.