Callum Parke

Football Referee and referee mentor

Continuing his hobby as a referee alongside his studies, Callum has clocked up over 120 hours volunteering as a football refree supporting the Intramural Sports League, and as a mentor to other budding referees at Loughborough.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (hobbies, interests and background):

Football refereeing is my main hobby, which I’ve been doing since February 2014, so now over six years. That has stemmed from a big love of football and sport in general, so Loughborough is definitely the place for me! I have played rugby and hockey before but had two left feet when it came to football, so refereeing was a great way to stay involved in the sport and get to a much higher level than I ever would playing.

Other than that, as my course may suggest I have a big interest in current affairs, and also enjoy cooking.

How did you first get involved in volunteering within sport at Loughborough?

In the month between finding out my A-Level results in August and coming to Loughborough in September 2016, I knew I wanted to pursue refereeing there, and at the time was going for promotion from Level 6 to Level 5. I had seen the football and general fitness facilities, like the University Stadium and Holywell Gym, and knew that inter-Uni opportunities would complement my refereeing off campus. I did some digging and contacted the IMS Football Co-ordinator, Ned Birss, about how to get involved and ended up refereeing the first IMS game that season, between Butler Court and William Morris.

During your years at Loughborough what have you got involved in through volunteering within sport?

In first and second year in particular, I refereed IMS games regularly, often on a cold Tuesday night in Loughborough. The highlights of this was being 4th Official in the 2018 IMS Cup Final, being Assistant Referee for Loughborough vs. Liverpool U18 in front of 1,250 people and refereeing Loughborough vs. Leicester City U21.

In third year, due to me being on placement at the University and becoming a Level 4 referee, my commitments off campus increased and my availability decreased. To stay involved, I offered to be one of the IMS Referee Mentors, helping to guide the referees who had just completed the CVA Officiating Course. This has continued into my fourth year whilst, where I can, refereeing IMS games.

However, I credit my involvement in the CVA for my selection to be the referee the Freshers Big Match in 2019, infront of just under 3,000 people – it remains the biggest achievement of my refereeing career and was an incredible experience.

What has your experience volunteering been like whilst at Loughborough?

It’s been great. It really helped me make some great friendships, which have lasted through the four years I’ve spent at Loughborough, in the form of players, managers and other referees. Even now, where I referee semi-professional football in leagues up to the National League North and South, I still find IMS games to be competitive, particularly cup games, and they remain handy for fitness, and it’s incredibly rewarding to help mentor the new referees coming through IMS.

How has being involved with Loughborough Sport helped you develop and progress (personally and professionally)?

As mentioned, personally volunteering has helped me make plenty of great friendships and helped me become considerably fitter whilst at Uni! I see some lads on the football pitch in an IMS game and then see them at the Union that night, and I wouldn’t have those links without my involvement in Loughborough Sport! Particularly as I was never going to be good enough to get into AU, it allows me to stay involved.

Professionally, volunteering has only given me more time to practice fitness and new things in refereeing, such as man management and match control, and keeps me match sharp, so that when I go off campus to referee I’m switched on and hit the ground running.

What’s the best advice you could give to a Loughborough student looking to get involved in volunteering & gain the most out of their university experiences?

It’s easy to think “yeah, I’ll do that at some point” and forget about it. Don’t do that – the opportunities are there for you, in the CVA and Uni in general, but it’s up to you to grab them. These volunteering opportunities and qualifications open so many doors for you on and off campus and look great on your CV, and keeps you involved in the fantastic sporting offer Loughborough provides. Take a risk, be brave and learn, and you will reap the rewards.

Feeling inspired?

Feeling inspired by Callum's experience? Check out the CVA Portal regularly for officating and coaching opportunities like this.

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