Referee In The Spotlight

Peter Kwak provides an insight into his development and experiences so far in refereeing.

Peter Kwak provides an insight into his development and experiences so far in refereeing.

Name: Peter Kwak

When did you qualify as a referee?
I first became a referee on the 8th of January 2002. At the time I was in Poland and I was 17 years old. After a long break and moving to the UK, I retook my course in September 2012 at the Bedfordshire FA. 

What are your early refereeing memories?
My first UK game as referee took place at Jubilee Park in Bedford on a Sunday morning (Golden Eagles United vs Woodlands Park) a Bedford & District Sunday Football League fixture. I remember I was nervous, not about refereeing but about communication with club officials and players. After the game I was sure this is something I wanted to do in the future because I enjoyed every minute of the game.

Have you faced any challenges and how have you overcome them?
Communication skills were my biggest concern at the beginning, but I just had to go through it and believe in myself. When you achieve promotion, games become more serious.

The biggest challenge for me was not to overthink decisions I had made, Referees are only human and we are not perfect, which means we also make mistakes. “Park these decisions” and move on to the next but learn from it.

Do you have any career highlights to date?
Each appointment is great to officiate in. Below you can find some of my highlights to date:

  • FA Women's Cup, 6 October 2013 - Preliminary Round at Wootton (Bedford LFC v Stevenage LFC) - Assistant Referee
  • Jubilee Cup, County Cup final, 2 May 2015 at Shefford Sports Club (Westoning vs Stevington) - Assistant Referee
  • FA Cup, 11 August 2018 at Brackley (Brackley Town Saints v London Colney) - Assistant Referee
  • Women’s FA Cup, 26 November 2023 - Second Round Proper (Oxford United Women FC v Dartford LFC) - Referee
  • PGA Plate - Under 21 Final, 28 April 2024 at Loughborough Leicester City Women FC (Reserve Team) v Charlton Athletic Women FC (Reserve Team) - 4th Official
  • Appointment to the Bedfordshire FA Women's Cup, County Cup, 8 May 2024 at Kempston Rovers Real Bedford Ladies v AFC Dunstable Women - Referee

What skills have you learned through refereeing?
Refereeing does not start and end on the football pitch. Managing an event like a football game is challenging, but you need to remain calm, even under pressure. Since I started refereeing, I have always felt that it is important to remain calm whilst being assertive but not arrogant. Administration, communication, planning, teamwork and many other areas have helped me on the grass and also in normal life. 

Why did you take up refereeing?
Since I was a kid, I just loved to play football and when I was 16 I decided to try to sign up for an amateur club in Poland. After I moved to the UK, this was still my passion, so I joined a local Bedford team. One day my father showed me an advert in the newspaper advertising a referee course and I decided to try it. At this stage I was refereeing and playing, but soon I realised I enjoyed being a match official more than a player. Being a match official allows me to stay close to the game I love and I get to watch all of the action from the best seat possible.

Who is the biggest influence on your refereeing career?
When I was younger, I was always impressed by Pierluigi Collina. He was a big character who received huge respect from everyone. These days I like Chris Kavanagh who was the first Premier League referee I personally saw at a National Referee Association Development Weekend. Taking advice from others is always a great thing, but you just need to be yourself.

What are your future goals and ambitions in refereeing?
This needs to be realistic so refereeing in the National League is something that I would like to achieve in the Men’s pathway. Not many people know about the Women’s pathway in refereeing, so despite very tough requirements and the growing number of female match officials, I would like to work towards being promoted to 2W (Championship Referee) and 1WAR (WSL Assistant Referee).

Do you support a football team?
This is the funny thing about my story because I do not actually support any specific football team. I just like football and the good thing about this is not having to worry about the score of my team when I am officiating myself.

Interesting fact away from football?
Hiking played a big role in my life before I got into officiating and I enjoyed every minute of this when I met a group of friends every other week. Due to being on duty on weekends I can’t hike so often and a few years ago I decided to create a little ocean at my home. I’m proud to be the owner of a small but beautiful saltwater tank with colourful corals and fishes. Stephen King and Remigiusz Mroz are two of my favourite writers because both can surprise you right at the very end of the book.

Each month, Bedfordshire FA will celebrate the hard work of individuals and clubs. The Spotlight feature will give you an insight into the various roles that are held within football. These will include a range of volunteers, referees, clubs and those making football happen behind the scenes.