Sourced by refs for refs
What makes Grassroots Referees stand out as a great supplier of referee kit and equipment? All the products are handpicked by experienced referee, Steve Chittenden.
Every individual has a different route to refereeing, so we found out about Steve’s experience and why he is so passionate about sourcing and supplying high-quality kit to the refereeing community.
Steve’s earliest football-related experience was watching Chelsea win the 1970 FA Cup with his dad. This ignited his lifelong interest in the sport.
He recalls: “At the age of 20, I coached my nephew’s team from U9 to U14. In 1988, I completed the FA Prelim Coaching qualification. I started refereeing in 1989, but continued coaching and completed another 12 years coaching my son’s team from U8 to U18 and then moved on to the senior squad.”
Steve’s transition to refereeing was triggered by his coaching qualification in 1988 that included a referee course. Steve said: “I was asked to referee some games for Watford FC. I enjoyed refereeing so joined the local leagues. I worked from the start to get respect from players and managers by not being over fussy whilst controlling the game.”
In May 1997, Steve reached a milestone in his refereeing career, when he was invited to join the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) list.
This year Steve enters his 33rd refereeing season – something he had not initially planned to do: “When I retired from the PGMO in 2008, I had no plans to continue active refereeing. However I was asked to go back to local level mentoring young referees who were progressing up the ladder, 14 years on and I am still active and enjoying the game.”
What inspired Steve to start Grassroots Referees?
Steve explained: “In 2004, I was co-founder of Grass Roots Football Live – an exhibition dedicated to players, coaches, referees and general participants. The event ran for seven years peaking with 30,000 visitors at the NEC. Precision became a main sponsor of the event and I was very impressed with its ethos and product lines.
"Precision is part of Reydon Sports, the UK’s largest sports product wholesaler. When we sold the event, I continued working with Precision, in the main, exporting their product range to the US soccer market.
“In 2016 I had identified through my relationships with County FA Referee Development Officers (RDOs), the need to provide a wider choice for kit and equipment for new referee course candidates. I discussed this with Precision and I took over the Precision Ref brand in 2017.”
“Over the next 5 years we have built up relationships with over 40 County FA’s, National Associations and referee organisations and now provide packs for new referees attending the referee course. We should hit over 5,000 packs in 2022. To align more with our core audience, we have recently re-branded from Precision Ref to Grassroots Referees. The grassroots ID in football is something that is very important to me”
Steve’s extensive refereeing experience and passion for football is what ensures the merchandise he selects for the Grassroots Referees shop is fit for purpose, competitively priced and suitable for any level of referee.
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