Charlie Hawkes gave an insight into his development and experiences so far in refereeing.
Name: Charlie Hawkes
When did you qualify as a referee?
I completed the 2-day course on the 18th of February 2022 and became qualified after my 5 games in early March.
What are your early refereeing memories?
In my first game, I was nervous, but I was lucky that the coaches on the day were encouraging and supported me, allowing me to make errors and learn from them. In my early games, I had a mentor, Peter, who came and watched my games. This was helpful just to hear I was doing ok and gave me the confidence to make decisions.
Have you faced any challenges and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have faced was an under-14s game when I had aggressive players and coaches taking things too far and over the top from a decision that I got correct. In a way, this was both the most negative and positive thing to happen to me. It was an experience that taught me a lot and how to handle difficult situations. It made giving a foul, card, or decision extremely easy compared to dealing with that. I also got such great support from the FA that it became a real learning experience that changed me as a referee for the better. Before I was nervous about something like this happening now, I know I can handle it.
Do you have any career highlights to date?
The back end of this season has been great with being given important games such as semi-finals and finals. I really enjoy these games. My highlight would be the under-14s County Cup final. It was a challenging game with 1 red card and 3 yellows, but to be trusted with a big game and a team of officials was great. It also felt very professional and showed me what the future could be like as a referee, walking out onto a stadium pitch
What skills have you learned through refereeing?
I have learned a lot through refereeing. I would say communication and confidence have been what I have learned the most and also learning how to deal with difficult situations. I am on the autism spectrum and also have motor Tourette’s before, so before becoming a referee I found meeting new people and speaking to strangers a little difficult. However, this has now become one of my strengths.
Why did you take up refereeing?
I had a paper round and was earning £20 a week for getting up every day at 6 am. I heard I could earn more for 1 game of refereeing than doing my paper round every day. I played at a decent grassroots level for Luton pre-academy in the JPL and I always wanted to have a career in football, and I felt refereeing could give me that opportunity.
Who is the biggest influence on your refereeing career?
Jose Gomes was the first person I met in refereeing; he ran my course which started off my journey. During my first year as a referee, Dean Carney has been a big influence on me by coming to my games and being on the end of the phone to give me advice. He also arranged for other mentors to come and watch me which gave me different ideas and advice to make me better.
What are your future goals and ambitions in refereeing?
My first year has been amazing and will be hard to beat in the next season, but my immediate goal for the next year is a promotion to level 6 and hopefully some more big finals. Overall I want refereeing to be my career and would love to referee in the Premier League, but realistically I would like to make it to a professional level.
Do you support a football team?
Since a young age, I have always gone to and been a supporter of Luton Town. Who knows, by the time this is published we may be a Premier League team!
The Bedfordshire FA will celebrate the hard work behind the scenes from individuals and clubs through the Spotlight feature giving you the insight into Council Members, Referees and Clubs.