How sport can develop transferable skills

The Star’s guest editor is urging youngsters to use sport to give themselves an advantage by learning new transferable skills.

Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 1:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 11:04 am

Sam Clayton is only 22 but has been a football referee for eight years, having started refereeing children’s matches before moving into men’s football. That, he said, has given him plenty of skills and experiences which he has been able to transfer into his career working as a Higher Education Engagement Assistant with Sheffield’s Higher Education Progression Partnership.

Sam, from Chapeltown, was inspired to take up refereeing after watching Rotherham-born Howard Webb officiating at the 2012 European Championships. Webb also refereed the 2010 World Cup Final. After some encouragement from his dad Steve, who was also a referee in the 1990s, Sam signed up to a training course “and never looked back.”

After two years as a youth referee, Sam moved into men’s football aged 17.

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Sam refereeing a match in 2019.

He said: “It was quite daunting and intimidating at times when you have grown men squaring up to each other.

“It gives you the capacity to deal with conflict. As a 17-year-old it’s helpful, I realise how much it did for me”

Sam has since progressed from the amateur game to refereeing semi-professional football at Step 5 of the National League System. He also officiates as an assistant referee up to Step 3.

He said: “It’s taught me resilience because it’s so easy to go ‘I’m packing this in' because when the going gets tough it really gets tough.

“If you are on the pitch and you have players saying you have had a rubbish game it can knock your confidence.”

On the whole, however, Sam said being a referee has helped his confidence, especially as he delivers assemblies for up to 400 students in his day job. In the future, he would like to officiate in the Football League.

And his advice for any young people thinking of getting involved in sport?

“Just try it, you never know where it could lead you. There’s a variety of things you can get involved in.

“There’s no other thing on the planet that teaches people about resilience and teamwork like sport. It gives lots of young people an opportunity to pursue a career.”