Ref Cert: Staying within the lines

So this just happened: 

So bloody pleased. Even more so that I did it in tandem with my ref buddy stubble entendre. Well done champ. Well done.

It’s been a year since I applied for certification for the first time. When I did it, I wrote this blog:

I wanted to document the process because it wasn’t clear to me and there were things I was just expected to know. I have been told by others going through the process that they found that blog post really useful – so I’m writing one to show the things I have learnt in a year of being certified… about the process of certification.

Number 1: You have to wait a full year to apply to level up
I thought getting Level 1 was ace and within the year I would be able to gather the evidence needed to prove that I was at Level 2, go for it, and get it. I was wrong. Your certification lasts two years, but you need to hold your cert for one whole year before you can apply to level up.

You can also apply to level down… if after a year of being certified you decide the lower level is better for you, you can apply for this in the same way you would apply to level up.

Number 2: Letters of recommendation v Feedback
I didn’t know about feedback when I applied for Level 1.

Think of it like this: When you apply to be married the council have to display your intentions on a roster/board that people can view and raise any objections they have with it… e.g you’re not legally allowed to get married.

It’s similar to application for certification. You apply, they put a list including your name and what level you’re applying for on the WFTDA forum and all certified officials and WFTDA reps can access this and contact ref cert to say YEY or NAY (with evidence) to help with the decision on whether to give you what you’re asking for. This feedback is taken in email form and is only seen by the people who give out certification. It is not made public.

I didn’t know about this because I wasn’t on that forum (because I wasn’t certified), and no one else told me. You may not have known about it either, but now you do.

The thing with feedback is that it relies on people spotting your name and being driven to message in. I’m not confident enough to leave this kind of thing to chance so I opt for letters of recommendation.

As mentioned in my previous blog this isn’t just a free-for-all where you ask everyone to write in about how ace you are. It’s best if you pick say three people you have worked with recently who are already seen highly in the eyes of ref cert (made friends with a Level 5? You best be asking them to vouch for you!). This letter will hold the same weight as feedback from the WFTDA forum.

Ref cert accept letters of recommendation from anyone for any level. They do not add them to the certification checklist unless they are required for a person to apply at that level. I have been assured by ref cert that all feedback and letters sent in are read.

Number 3: Everything has an expiry date
But trying to pin down what bits and when is difficult.

However, these bits I do know: If you have passed a written test and a new one comes out, you have a grace period of a month before your old pass is null and void. That means you need to get your application in to ref cert to be considered asap. They only check them once a month remember, so don’t hang around.

If you do your skating skills and don’t apply to cert for ages, you should re do it within two years. It’s generally understood that you will do this skating skills assessment annually, but that’s more for your benefit to track your progress (to make sure you’re not slipping and to prove to yourself and others that you’re physically up to the task). But if you have it on file, ref cert will drop it off after two years.

Evals will purge after two years. Unless they are needed for any grievance procedures or similar. That’s actually pretty useful – you don’t want to be judged now on your ability to ref two years ago, right?

Number 4: Sometimes things change
So completely by accident I found out that the cut off date for applications changed. It’s now the 10th and not the 15th of each month.
The day you find out your results has changed too, it used to be the first day of the next month and now it’s from the 26th of that month onwards, with public announcements being made on 1st. More info on that and the FAQs here!

So if you’re one of those leave-it-til-the-last-minuters… DON’T. Because if you wait til the 14th to hand in your application, you’ve missed that month’s intake and you’ll be assessed in the next month.

Also there is no review in December… Everyone needs time off.

And last but not least… ref cert no longer use regional email addresses, just for everything now.

So that’s it from me – GOOD LUCK!

About referee certification:
Ref cert FAQs:
Previous blog post on ref certification:


…This weekend I enjoyed refereeing…

I know I bleat on about how great being in stripes is, but lately it hasn’t been. I took some time off after Dallas and spent it working on a ref training plan and refereeing other leagues. After that time off I came back to game-reffing, but not to practice reffing. I still didn’t feel it. I still needed JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE time off.

So I took another month. And another.

There were underlying issues with a couple of individuals, but really, I just needed a break. I realised that I hadn’t taken a proper break since moving to Birmingham over two years ago. And prior to that… well… I gave myself a month of adjustment when I moved from MMR to NRG. I spent that time chucking out pink and blue things and shopping online for gold and black leg warmers. What I’m saying is, I don’t give myself time off often.

That led to nearly four months of me not having regular training. I enjoyed travelling to other teams and training with them. Networking. Working on my training plan. Meeting fresh refs and finding that teaching them brought back some of my enthusiasm.

Last week I went back to training with the Central City Rollergirls. I’m still not 100% so I’m doing a phased return. It’s the first time I have been delicate with myself and rollerderby since THE TEETH incident. It feels good to think about my happiness.


So. Back at training (almost) and back to gameplay (fo’ sho’) I was off to Leeds this weekend for the Last Action Heroes Tournament. Another one of those co-ed pay-to-play DELIGHTS that I usually recoil at in horror. But Matthew Newton was THR… so  applied to participate. Cue roadtrip with the boy and Ben.


Sniper, Milky and Gin were going to be there skating, and a heap of my ref buddies were going to be officiating. BS, Sven, Stiff, Disco Dave, ALUN BLOODY HUGHES and of course Newton. First up, I was given a new sleeveless hoodie from my buddies at NRG and TNF. God I love them. Now we all match.


I like working with Newton. We have a similar outlook. I like to message him when I’m feeling like rollerderby is becoming a chore. He usually makes me laugh and I get over it. This weekend, his THR mantra was to enjoy it, and have fun. So we did. Lots of it.

I have been raised in rollerderby to NOT HAVE FUN as a ref. Team No Fun. We don’t smile much, we keep a straight face. It’s taken me YEARS to perfect the “bored now” look which I pulled off so easily as a teenager.

In contrast to that I always tell my crews we’re here to have fun, so have it. I don’t think it’s fair to say refs aren’t allowed to have skater friends and congratulate them on awesome moves. Sure, it’s a fine line between being human and showing favouritism, but I’m not a robot. And GOD DAMN IT I LIKE TO SMILE. But then… I take my reffing seriously. I want to be seen as professional. It’s a difficult one. I haven’t found the balance there yet.

But looking at this picture, and the crew on the day, I don’t think “God, totes unprofesh”. I think “That looks like it was fun”. Because it was. And I think I want more of it. I need to look into that.


Photo by Barry Wimlett:

So all that said, turning up for a ten-hour-long day to ref some mixed teams in Leeds I was imagining the usual: Tired angry skaters. Hungry refs. Contact lenses drying out because Futsal halls are always covered in a layer of dust. I got all of that. But I also got a bunch of laughs.

From having someone say “WTF are they doing?” in my ear when weird plays happened on track, to being able to smile when a lead jammer winked at me and pointed back. The whole thing was made infinitely more enjoyable.

So much so that I had skaters telling me they were tired and bored part way through the day and I thought “Really??!”. That’s a nice feeling. It reminded me of Tattoo Freeze years ago, meeting Shref and Noise Tank for the first time and having ice creams in the sunshine. Back before I thought about ref cert and taking things seriously, and I was just wanting to ref for fun.

Five hours and twenty minutes of skating done in one day. Body feels good. Brain felt tired but it was from lack of food I think. Few tweaks to the training and with my newly returned love of the game, I should be ready to nail the Big O in a month.

*cough* they also had a guy there doing portraits and I managed to get the boy to stand still (albeit on skates) long enough to get a good photo of us *cough*