A Lincolnshire referee travelled to Nantes in France over the Easter Weekend to officiate an International Walking Football tournament. Mick Hill was invited by the England Walking Football Community Group to be the English referee at an International Walking Football competition involving teams from France, Morocco, Republic of Ireland and England.
The Tournament took place in Nantes at the French Football Federation complex, and saw games played over 2 days at 50+ and 60+ age categories.
Mick travelled over with fellow Grimsby Corinthians Walking Football Club member, Tony Drinkell, who played in the winning 60+ England squad.
“I refereed matches involving teams from all the countries which proved to be a very interesting experience taking into consideration the language barriers!” Mick told us.
“The matches were very competitive and were a real test of concentration over the two days. A total of 6 x 50-minute matches resulted in a very weary referee at the end of the fixtures which saw France win the 50+ group and England the 60+ group.”
“Despite the competitiveness of the games there was a great social atmosphere and new friendships formed with players and officials from all the countries. The referees received lots of praise for their performances from players and tournament officials. When I was dropped off at the airport in a minibus driven by the French 60+ goalkeeper, there was a handshake of thanks and a comment from him, 'Merci, excellent Referee' - It was great to hear those words.”
Speaking about his experience, Mick said: "It was an enjoyable experience although testing at times on the pitch. Lots of laughs during the trip and I was made to feel very welcome by all the players and officials involved. It has been a fantastic opportunity to experience refereeing in another country and highlights what opportunities are out there for walking football referees. The game must be one of the fastest growing sports in Europe and it really needs more Referees to support the growth of the game."
Referee Development Manager, Michael Brader, said: “Mick has been at the forefront of Walking Football in Lincolnshire for so many years and it is great to see him recognised at tournaments across Europe. He is the driving force behind Walking Football Referee training here, I have no doubt he has flown the flag for all his colleagues.”
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