Safwan Mohammed

Football Referee

4th Year International Business student, Safwan Mohammed, has got involved in a variety of opportunities throughout his time studying at Loughborough, not only coaching and refereeing through the Intramural Sports Programme but also supporting the My Lifestyle Indoor Cricket session as a Rec Sec then Activator.

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

I’ve always had an incredible passion for sport since I was a child! I remember my dad putting on Germany vs England on the TV – that famous 5-1 victory in Munich got me hooked. A lifelong Southampton fan, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch sport live from a very young age (not all good as you can imagine!) – any live sporting occasion would draw my attention. From the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, Johnny Wilkinson’s 2003 Rugby World Cup drop-goal, to the most incredible Ashes series in 2005 – I was glued to the TV! Having played Football and Cricket at school, and realising I didn’t quite have the talent to play either to a high level (or a good one for that matter), a broken hand presented me with the opportunity to start football refereeing at the age of 17, and I’ve kept it up since!

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

Having refereed youth football for a 18 months before university, I hadn’t thought too much about refereeing at Loughborough, but I think I saw the CVA banner at the Sports Bazaar in freshers! Hearing about the IMS program certainly excited me, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my priorities at the start of my Uni experience! I then slowly got into refereeing the IMS league games in November, whilst regularly attending MyLifestyle Indoor Cricket to the point where I was offered the role of RecSec within a few weeks!

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

As noted earlier, the CVA provided a gateway for me to continue my football refereeing through the IMS program, whilst also providing fantastic opportunities for me to support the running of, and eventually lead the weekly MyLifestyle Indoor Cricket sessions. The CVA also allowed me to gain my Level 1 Football Coaching qualification, which then gave me the opportunity to coach in the community, and coach an IMS team in my 2nd year.

What has your experience volunteering been like whilst at Loughborough?

Having managed to rack up nearly 200 hours on the CVA portal (damn you pandemic for stopping me reaching the double hundred!), it’s fair to say I’ve had an incredible experience volunteering at Loughborough. The community feel was such a critical part of my enjoyment, especially in my 60 games/98 hours of IMS refereeing! Being able to meet so many other students who shared my passion for not only sport, but also wanted to provide a high quality competitive opportunity for players to enjoy. I had the opportunity to referee outside of the university in both my 2nd and Final year, but had such a bond with the IMS program! The CVA is all about people, and that is what kept me coming back for more! My experience peaked at the 2018 IMS Awards, where I was fortunate enough to win the IMS Unsung Hero Award – it was truly an honour and privilege to be recognised by my peers, and not one minute felt like work!

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

Loughborough Sport has provided an incredible platform for me to grow, not only as an Official, but also as a person. The opportunities to be involved in multiple ‘Big Matches’ pitting the University 1st XI against a Premier League U18/23 side, are ones which I shall never forget. Doing what you love to do, in front of a capacity crowd really felt special! It also exposed me to a higher level of sport than I may have otherwise experienced – naturally, that improves you as an individual, but also helps you handle pressure & the occasion, if you were to be faced with that again. I’ve also managed to learn so much from so many different people – being a part of a community that is so supportive allows individuals to share their knowledge, helping everyone to improve. I wouldn’t be half the official I am without the advice and support from fellow CVA students.

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 sounds cliché, but get stuck in, and ask questions! Your 1st and 2nd Years provide you with a lot of time to be able to learn new skills, dive into new challenges, and really further your Loughborough experience. It may seem manic for a while, but the more I put in, the more I got out – I would never had had the opportunities I did if hadn’t seen the CVA at that freshers bazaar (let alone another university). You’re at Loughborough, the most renowned sporting university in the UK – take every opportunity you have, and make the most of it. You don’t realise how lucky we are to be here. You don’t realise how good it was until you’re gone.

Feeling inspired?

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

Visit the CVA Portal