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You're blind, fat and useless and that's about as polite as it gets. So who wouldn't be a Sunday league ref? By Jasmine Birtles and Sarah Squires
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The Independent Online

Fancy a Sunday afternoon running around a football pitch and being sworn at from the touchline? You'll get £20 to £40 a match for your trouble and a lot of fresh air and exercise.

Being a football referee for amateur games in your local area can be a great way of making a bit of extra cash, so long as you have a thick skin. A ref ensures that all the players stick to the rules and, in the event that they don't, it's the referee's responsibility to hand out the yellow and red cards. You need to be fit and it helps to have played the game too.

The work will also be varied. Amateur leagues can consist of teams of eight-year-olds, or games between 60-year-olds.

If you're familiar with your local team, ask if they're looking for refs. Many only want volunteers but increasing numbers can and will pay for someone to run their game.

To find local teams, go on the internet and enter your postcode in the "find a club" search tool on the Football Association's homepage (www.thefa. com). Additionally, Gumtree. com has listings of paid referee work for football teams in different areas.

It is not essential to have a formal FA qualification for Sunday leagues but you do need to know the rules inside out and back to front including offsides. And although it is not imperative you are qualified, most clubs will look for a ref who has taken and passed an FA training course. In the past year, around 7,000 people have attended one of these programmes, run by county football associations across the country.

The FA has information on what courses are available in your area, and depending on your age, the basic referee programme costs between £40 and £80 including the fee for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. However, up to £30 of this can be refunded once you've passed the course and refereed 10 games. If you are planning to work with children at all, you need the CRB check.

If you live near a Powerleague centre (www.powerleague.co.uk), it is worth seeing if they have any ref jobs available. Powerleague is a nationally organised five-a-side football tournament for children and adults. It also runs matches for corporate clients on a regular basis.

Getting work with Powerleague involves rather more than just helping out teams in your local area. They will want to know that you've been on an FA course and they tend to look for people over the age of 30 only. However, if a younger candidate has the right level of experience, they should be able to get work too.

'There's nothing you can do about abusive spectators'

Jason Cornwall, 24, from London, refereed for his local Powerleague and Sunday league for a year as a way of generating extra income while he was at university. He is a registered "level seven" referee with the Football Association.

"I just did it as a part-time job to make some money," he says. "I also coach so it's really helpful for me to know all the rules of the game well.

"I mainly worked in the evenings at my local Powerleague they paid £9 an hour. But I also did 11-a-side on Sundays, which paid about £30 a match."

He continues: "You normally start at level 10 depending on your experience and age, and you move down depending on the courses you take.

"I never really did anything like fitness training but you can expect to move up a level every year. The top grade is level one, where you referee international games."

Jason loves watching the tactics used by players and managers at close quarters. But there is a downside: "The worst thing has to be the abuse you can get from the fans. You can control the players, but with spectators there's nothing you can do about it."

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