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MELKSHAM Oak pupil Steven Brenchley has been invited to attend a prestigious international youth football tournament in America in April as an official referee.
Stephen, who is 18 years old, is a level 6 county referee regularly officiating on the Trowbridge and District League, the Chippenham and District Sunday League and the Toolstation Western League.
Whilst being assessed for promotion to level 5 senior county referee, Steven’s ability was recognised by a number of officials within the referee community and he later received a call from George McCaffery, a senior referee and coach, an FA observer and the director of the Dallas Cup Referee Academy.
Steven said, “I couldn’t believe it when he called to invite me – it was so out of the blue, but I was really pleased.
“I started refereeing in the Mid Wilts Youth League when I was 14. I did used to play football but I thought I could be more successful as a referee and I really enjoy it. It can be a challenge; I referee men’s football and being a teenager that can be quite daunting sometimes but I find if you respect the players, they respect you. There’s also a lot of support available for referees from the FA, if you are pro-active and ask for help, you will get the help you need. I have friends who are senior referees, so I have a lot of support available”
The Dallas Cup has been running since 1980 and is an invitation-only tournament. There are approximately 180 teams that are accepted into the Dallas Cup; many players who have taken part in the tournament have gone on to become professional footballers, including famous names such as Wayne Rooney and David Beckham.
Steven will be part of a team of 11 referees invited by the FA and is one of only two referees in the country at his age and level.
“I’ve never been to America before so I’m really looking forward to the trip,” Steven continued. “It will be a great experience and I’ll get the chance to learn from some of the top referees in the world.”
Steven’s parents Allan and Emma said, “We’re so proud of him, his achievements in refereeing are excellent. He works very hard and manages to juggle his school work and his job as a referee.
“The FA pay for most of the trip but he must pay for his own flights and take spending money, so he needs over £1,000. He has approached the leagues he referees in as well as Wiltshire FA to see if they are able to offer financial help or sponsorship.
“He will benefit from a 10-day intensive coaching regime and work alongside professional referees. This is a chance of a lifetime for Steven as he hopes to take his refereeing career as far as he can.”
Steven added, “To become a professional referee is difficult but not impossible. It’s definitely something I would like to do but I’m also studying to be a special needs teacher.”