Participating in sport is demanding in more ways that one, and it isn’t for everybody. But there are other ways to get involved – to keep yourself active, to be a part of something. Volunteering in sport is one, but another you may not have considered is refereeing, officiating or umpiring.

It may be that your playing career has come and gone, and you want to give something back to a sport. Or it may be that you don’t have the confidence or desire to play, but would like to be involved somehow.

Refereeing and other forms of officiating demand certain attributes, but if you think you have that necessary skill set, then it represents a fantastic way to get involved in sport and, yes, maybe even make yourself a few quid.


Back in 2016 we spoke to archery judge Graham Potts, who detailed the amazing range of opportunities available to an archery judge. You can play a central part in big events, nationally and internationally, and even get to travel the world. You can make new friends and enjoy incredible experiences in the thick of elite sporting competition.

Archery GB’s Guide to Being a Judge provides a comprehensive overview into judging and you can find out how to become a judge here.


Tens of thousands of grassroots football matches take place around the country every weekend, and they all need referees. The FA Referees Course is designed for anyone aged 14 and over who wants to get involved in officiating every weekend on our local parks, throughout the English football pyramid, and possibly even up to those who take charge of The FA Cup Final and games in the Premier League every week.

Most kids games are refereed by boys and girls in their teens, and it’s a fantastic way to learn the ropes in a less pressured environment, and earn yourself a bit of pocket money for an hour’s ‘work’ every weekend.


Umpiring in cricket provides a very different experience to a football referee. It requires less (or even no) running, but you’re right in the thick of the action and on your feet for hours. The ECB run a series of courses for cricket fans who want to take their enthusiasm into umpiring.

It kicks off with an Introductory Course, which gives you a taste of what lies ahead if you opt to pursue an interest in umpiring. You’ll then progress through the various stages, developing the skills and knowledge that will enable you to become the best umpire you can be.

Another way to get involved in cricket is through scoring, and a number of courses are available to help you learn the requisite skills.


Love track and field but can’t compete for whatever reason? It’s easy to forget athletics needs officials. It’s not refereeing as such, but you’re right up close to the action – judging, starting, timekeeping, and much more – and if you’re lucky you’ll get to travel around playing a key role in track and field meetings. All the information you could wish for can be found here.


Hockey is a quick and at times deceptively brutal game that needs strong umpires. England Hockey offer a range of opportunities to get involved, whether you’re aiming for local leagues or the international stage.

Starting with the Level 1 Umpiring Course, you can work your way up through the pyramid if you wish. England Hockey also have a range of resources online in the officiating section of its Hockey Hub.


Netball is growing at a tremendous rate and is the number one team sport played by women and girls, with over 150,000 playing every week. It means high quality officiating at all levels is essential, to maintain the sports’ ever-improving standards.

If you want to get involved in officiating in netball, England Netball’s Officiating Pathway allows budding officials to plot their own route through the levels, while their online officiating hub leaves no stone unturned in providing all the information you could possibly need.

Get involved!

Officiating in sport teaches us about empathy, respect, excellence and a whole other range of social and personal skills. It’s not easy – you’re under scrutiny, and will often come under pressure from players reacting emotionally – and so the role usually requires a certain level of mental strength and a particular set of characteristics. But if you think you tick those boxes, refereeing, umpiring and officiating can be a hugely rewarding means of getting involved in sport.


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