A letter from the RefPal team
RefPal has grown out of love for football and refereeing, of a desire to be a better referee and of a wish to help others achieve their goals.
It is a fact that every referee needs lots of practical experience to develop, but nearly 20 years into our refereeing we felt that the process of learning and improving your theoretical knowledge could have been done much more effectively. The desire to improve had always been there for us, but the results and the development progress did not match up to it.
There is a saying that to be really good at something then you need to do 10000 hours of Smart Hard Work on it. For Smart you need clear, uniform and detailed guidelines, for Hard you need an immense amount of repetitions and for Work you need to make a great effort on your own.
UEFA has good and clear guidelines on how certain situations should be interpreted, but there has been a gap in keeping the same line domestically and reaching the guidelines towards the upcoming domestic referees.
VAR has proven that video is the future of refereeing, but to work hard one needs to spend a lot of time on analyzing their own games and additionally find time to analyze games of others. The way performance evaluating and feedback has long been given does not really match the modern needs as a lot of valuable feedback goes missing, is not shared and is difficult to reproduce. This all adds up to lots of time lost, value not gained and opportunities missed.
We felt that a better usage of resources can be an invaluable gain for all professional, semi-professional and amateur referees. But especially for us as refereeing was then our second job and it was leaving us further behind other referees in Europe as more and more referees were turning professional.
It left us faced with two major challenges – how to understand refereeing better (making less mistakes and having more control) and how to do so in a lesser time than available to full-time referees.
In cooperation with the Estonian FA we created a tool that allows referees of all levels to systematically analyze refereeing decisions in detail and learn to differentiate between punishable, grey area and none punishable offences.
The innovative idea
We created a system where all the league games are analyzed by professionals. This frees referees from doing their own analysis and thus allows them to evaluate the most important incidents from all other league games. Efficiecny booms as we experience and learn much more while saving a lot of time.
While doing so we discovered that the fun factor of RefPal gets the referees passionately involved in what they love to do on a daily basis. The system also feeds itself as when the committee gives feedback it also receives feedback on problem areas and progress, theoretical knowledge and refereeing know-how in the league.
We have now used the system in the Estonian league for 3 years and have gained experience on why it works and why it makes people work on their own. We are feeling very confident about sharing the discovered with the rest of the refereeing world.
We strongly believe in the power of shared experiences and collective know-how. Our vision in RefPal is to bring the world of refereeing together, to help grow together, to be connected sharing experience and know-how through countries and confederations.
We want to help referees unlock their potential and to “live football” no matter what level of refereeing they are involved in.
We invite you to join us on this journey of constant self-improvement and refereeing development! Kristo Tohver
– sales & marketing, business development FIFA referee (UEFA 1st category, 100+ games in Europe, 350+ in Estonia) Sten Klaasen
– system architect, video analysis FIFA assistant (60+ games in Europe, 300+ games in Estonia)