Scottish officials use winter break to hone skills

Scotland’s top referees were given a lesson in Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology as they took part in their annual winter training camp.

The four-day training camp in La Manga, Spain saw 45 of the Scottish FA’s top officials gather to undergo both theoretical and practical sessions designed to improve their skills as referees.

The training camp, which has been running since 2008, this year took place during the Premiership winter shutdown.

Scottish FA Head of Refereeing John Fleming took advantage of the opportunity to review the season so far with the officials and look ahead to the future.

The final day of the camp welcomed Premier League referee Martin Atkinson to deliver a session to the Scottish referees.

Atkinson was fresh from officiating Chelsea v Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final last week, one of the first matches to utilise VAR in England.

Atkinson took the time to explain to the assembled referees about the benefits of VAR and how to handle new technology being introduced into the game.

“Martin is over on his own personal time and he’s very friendly with our international referees,” said John Fleming

“He trained with us on Tuesday morning and also spoke to us about VAR, which is a hot topic at the moment.

“Martin has recently refereed a game in England with VAR so our referees can learn a lot from his talk.

“He’s also someone for them to look up to, having refereed over 300 matches in the Premiership and been involved in Cup Finals and the World Cup at international level.

“The four-day training camp has been intense, with the days starting at 7.30am and carrying on into the evening.

“We’ve given the referees constant coaching and education. Much like a manager of a club, having all of the referees together really helps with the team spirit within the group.

“Getting to know them away from the field is very beneficial.”

One referee who welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with his colleagues at the training camp was Bobby Madden, who took charge of last season’s Scottish Cup Final and the most recent Celtic v Rangers fixture.

“As referees we work together as a team on a matchday so it is important for the referees and coaches to gather together, giving us an opportunity to get to know each other better, as well as review how we’ve performed this season.

“A lot of clubs are taking the opportunity to have some warm weather training and as a refereeing team, we are no different.

“We’re not professional in the sense that we don’t train together every day, so to have the opportunity to train together for a few days makes a big difference.”