During the tournament, each of our officials were guaranteed three games as referee. However, as the tournament progressed the group were given additional roles as assistants and fourth officials, providing them all a wealth of experience. Quality venues, top players and passionate coaches were all part of the experience upon which they could reflect when back home in domestic football. It is certain that what was learned in Portugal will benefit the young referees back in West Yorkshire. For the group consisting of Akeel Ahmed, Lauren Browne, Michael Trevethan and Arran Williams the trip will certainly live long in the memory.
Akeel Ahmed, Head referee commented
"It was on a Monday afternoon when I received a call from West Riding County FA. Thinking it would be a call for a game as it usually is, I instantly answered my phone. Hearing Bobby Madley's voice asking what I am doing in June, gave me shivers down my spine, knowing that this might be about Iber Cup, which is a big opportunity in anyone’s Refereeing career. I had heard of previous year's visits to Portugal, and when I heard the words roll out of Bobby's mouth I was chuffed, ecstatic, emotional and pleased to the maximum. Bobby not only asked me to be on the trip, but to be the Head Referee which was a superb honour and one I believed I would do to the best of my abilities. Being trusted by a Premier League Referee to represent my County was something I would never have dreamed of, but I believe my hard work over the years helped mould me in to what Bobby believed was the perfect candidate for the job. To also realise that my friends Arran Williams, Michael Trevethan and Lauren Browne would be going just added to the excitement as we have been working together in the School of Excellence, we all knew each other but we were not very close. I knew this opportunity was great and hopefully a kick start to push my career further and make new lifelong friendships"
All of the activity in Portugal took place under the watchful eye of Stephen Rhodes and Ian Johnstone who were coaches for the group. Stephen Rhodes, Referee Development Officer at West Riding County FA commented:
"I am sure that every one of our group will look back and think this was a great experience; myself included. They will have learned a great deal about refereeing from watching each other, their foreign counterparts, their assessors and from the coaching / support that Ian and I hopefully gave them. I’m sure a great deal was learned about themselves as individuals too. The camaraderie between our group was tremendous. They were honest, attentive, supportive, punctual, friendly, generous and fun to be with. Despite their diverse backgrounds and their ages, they gelled as a group and will have great memories of their time in Portugal. Many friendships were made in such a short space of time"
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