Scottish Cup Final referee William Collum today launched the Scottish Centre of Refereeing Excellence (SCORE) at Hampden Park.
SCORE, which will be based at the National Performance Centre for Sport in Edinburgh, will provide a pathway for up-and-coming referees to reach the upper echelons of the game, with the Scottish FA and Heriot-Watt University working in partnership to provide education through modules and intensive training.
The nine candidates successful in their application to SCORE went through a rigorous process, including tests on the laws of the game and personal fitness, as well as an interview.
Speaking to the Scottish FA website, Collum said: “We’re here to develop the referees of the future. It’s absolutely important that, like any other team, we keep developing people for the next generation of Scottish referees.
“These guys have a great opportunity through SCORE, working with both the Scottish FA and Heriot-Watt University. Those in the programme will no doubt benefit, as will referees all over Scotland."
This year’s final will be Collum’s second William Hill Scottish Cup Final, having taken charge of the 2013 final between Hibernian and Celtic.
The referee, who has officiated in Munich and Monaco this season in the UEFA Champions League, is ready for the big occasion.
“It’ll be a fantastic and unique occasions for both teams involved, their players and their supporters”, he said.
“Of course, to be involved in such a fantastic occasion is great for me and our team of officials, but most of all it is important that the spectators and the two teams have a great day.”
One of the nine referees who were successful with their SCORE application was Matthew McDiarmid. The referee recently had his first Hampden experience officiating the Little Big Shot Youth Cup Final, and he says it was a moment to remember.
McDiarmid said: “It was absolutely surreal. I’ve been in the Hampden crowd many a time, but it was my first time in the middle and it was the stuff of dreams. It was an excellent experience and one I’ll always remember.”
“SCORE will be great for developing our leadership skills, especially man management. It is such a vital part of being refereeing, and that sort of training will definitely be beneficial in handling volatile situations on the park.”