Four Cheshire FA referees recently enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime after travelling to Portugal to officiate at the 2019 Iber Cup.
Matthew O'Shea, Tom Harrison, Tom O'Brien and Kyle Lines spent nine days in Lisbon at one of the largest international youth tournaments in the world, officiating teams from Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
The four referees are part of the Cheshire FA Centre of Refereeing Excellence, a platform providing ambitious referees within Cheshire the opportunity to attend regular meetings involving both practical and technical training sessions, as well as the opportunity to officiate at Crewe Alexandra Academy.
The trip gave them the chance to learn, develop and enhance a number of refereeing skills, as well as teaching them about how to overcome language barriers.
They were joined in Portugal by Referee Development Officer Ed Duckworth and CORE Director Nigel Freelove, who offered guidance and feedback throughout the experience.
As a result of their hard work, all four officials were appointed to various finals across the tournament.
Reflecting on the trip, Matthew O'Shea said: "I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the Iber Cup 2019 which allowed me to learn and develop massively as a referee putting me in a good position to start my first season at Level 4.
"From the very first game, we were all thrown out of our comfort zones and had to overcome challenges. One of the biggest issues during our games was the language barrier between us and the teams, this instantly forced us to communicate via body gestures so everyone understood our thinking.
"Getting through these games as a team of four pulled us all closer together, forming great friendships that will last throughout our refereeing careers.
"My game has significantly improved with big thanks going to our coaches, Ed and Nigel. The trip was a massive success and something I’ll never forget!"
Ed Duckworth, Cheshire FA Referee Development Officer, said: “Four of our young, ambitious referees have been officiating in Lisbon at the 2019 Iber Cup.
“They officiated 23 matches, with teams from Indonesia, North America, Brazil and a number of teams from across Europe. We also had the opportunity to work with referees from other County FA’s and the National FA, which was another fantastic opportunity.
“Some of the benefits from their time over in Portugal include the ability to develop their body language and communication, to improve their levels of fitness and also to improve their man-management, all of which will help stand them in good stead ahead of the new season and their refereeing careers.”