Vitor Antunes is just one of a whole raft of new referees to take up the whistle and officiate local JFA Combination matches this season. The 38-year-old has already taken charge of more than a dozen games and is now encouraging others to take their first steps on the refereeing journey by signing up to February's FA Basic Referee Course at Springfield Stadium.
"I got into refereeing a while back, back home when the lack of referees was a problem in the registered clubs of our league," said Antunes. "The Portuguese Football Association invited the clubs to ask some players if they were interested in taking the referee course, I did go for it and learnt a lot at the time."
Vitor was among 14 learners to take the entry course, delivered by Trevor Massey, in Jersey in early 2020. He has since moved from Trainee to Level 7 Referee status following a programme of one-to-one mentoring support.
Since the course was delivered, there has a dramatic rise in the number of registered referees, from 28 last season to well over 40 for the 2020/21 campaign. The growth as helped ensure that nearly every match in the island now is allocated an official JFA referee, with many fixtures enjoying two appointed assistant referees as well.
Some do it to keep fit, some for the extra money, and some to give something back to the game they love. For Vitor it's about trying to make a difference. "What made me consider getting into refereeing, it's obvious... the misjudgment of players towards decisions made by referees.
"As a player, I'm getting to the stage where my age gives me a wiser view towards games, so I had to step in to support and get players to understand referees' views too.
"I enjoy it because I feel that I can make a difference and I can understand most of players' frustrations to the point that everyone is happy at the end of the game and thanks you for what's been done."
The FA Basic Referee Course in February 2021 will give participants an introduction to officiating, introducing the Laws of the game through theory and practical elements, while outlining the skills require to operate as an official in grassroots football. The FREE course will be delivered through theory & practical elements, outlining the skills required to operate as an official in grassroots football.
Antunes added: "I would say to anyone thinking of getting into refereeing that it would be a great decision and you'll definitely have good support throughout the steps. Football is definitely better when there's a qualified referee in the middle."
Click here to register your interest in February's course