7 Reasons to referee a tournament abroad

Have you planned your summer holidays for 2019 as yet?  If not, have you ever thought about spending a week away and refereeing a youth tournament in a different country?  

Whether it’s taking three layers with you for a visit to Norway, taking a trip across the pond to the US or whistling in the heat of Portugal, refereeing abroad is a great experience so here’s 7 reasons why it should be on your list for 2019:

1 The closest thing to officiating at a World Cup

Many international youth tournaments such as the Iber Cup in Cascais (Portugal), feature some of the best youth teams from around the world.  You’ll encounter stars of tomorrow as many Elite academies, such as PSG or Juventus, attend youth tournaments to test themselves against the rest in the world.  Parents and fans will be cheering their children on with drums and songs whilst matches will be played on some of the best pitches available.  Teams play a game a day and qualify from groups to latter rounds played at the end of the week, culminating in a final that sees all participants from the week attend a celebration of the weeks festivities.  Some even have amazing opening and closing ceremonies, it literally feels like you’re refereeing at the World Cup.

2 Top observers, educators and special guests

Many elite referees from past and present attend a tournament during the summer to keep their eye in or to just give back to those who are coming through the system.  Referees like Mark Clattenburg and David Coote have taken a week or two out of their summer to attend.  Sessions are run in the evenings for those who want to attend, many are from great speakers including the Swedish former Assistant Referee Leif Lindberg, the only person to have officiated on a European Championship Final and World Cup Final.  Observers are at most games, giving you feedback on your performance and helping identify strengths and development opportunities.  If this isn’t one of the best learning environments for referees we don’t know what is!


3 Work as a team and experience different roles

Depending on your level you may have never taken up the flag, or operated as a fourth official.  Every game at a tournament will have 4 officials so you can try out different roles during your week and learn in a safe environment.  You can work with your friends if you come out together, or you can request to be rotated so you can referee with officials you don’t know, from different parts of your country or from other countries completely.  Some games are officiated by 4 officials from different continents!  

4 Cultural differences

As mentioned earlier, teams come from all over the world and most likely won’t speak the same language as you.  You’ll referee an under-14 game between a physical Scandinavian team and a technical South American team, have one assistant from Africa, one from Asia and the forth official from Europe.  You’re going to come across a variety of cultural differences from the teams playing style, to language, to interpretation of fouls, dissent and simulation.  You’ll open your eyes to new techniques to manage games such as having to rely heavily on body language and whistle tone as players can’t understand your thick Geordie accent.  You’ll see a stone wall penalty be given as a free-kick for simulation by a Venezuelan referee as they’ve spent hours researching simulation and know all the tricks.  The tools that you will pick up during your week away will ensure you come back a stronger referee with an armoury of new techniques to help you manage games back home.  

5 Explore the world

It’s not all just football.  Many tournaments are set either in or close by iconic cities and landmarks.  You can spend your off time visiting the beaches of Malaga, walking across the Great Wall of China or making your way in to the Bay Area of San Francisco for a trip to Alcatraz.  There are so many great tournaments on the footsteps of great destinations that you’ve always wanted to visit.  Here’s your reason to!  


6 Keep you fresh during pre-season

For those who aren’t convinced yet, a week long tournament with 2 or 3 games per day is a great way to start or end your pre-season fitness schedules.  You’ll come back stronger both physically and mentally for the start of the new season.

7 Make friends for life

Probably the most important of all of these points is you’ll meet a lot of people, mainly referees, from all walks of life, backgrounds and nationalities.  A week together enjoying everything above is going to build great relationships that will span a lifetime.  You’ll use tournaments in the future as an excuse to meet up, attend each others weddings or potentially be a future godfather.  Who knew you could make lifelong friends from behind the whistle.

You can find out more about how you can referee abroad on our podcast as we speak with Tournaments Abroad founders Matthew Day and Daniele Curcio:

Hassan Rajwani