BUDDING football referees descended on St George's Central School to undertake the 'mini-whistlers' football officials course.

Organised by Astley and Tyldesley Sports Association with Lancashire FA, 81 pupils in year six at seven different schools benefited from the half-day session.

They listened to FA referee instructor Barry Dickinson explaining the significant role of respect, not just in sport.

He raised awareness and stressed the importance of having respect for people such as police officers, welfare staff in schools and teachers before moving towards respect for officials in sport.

The course also included a mixture of theory and practical based activities. And all children received a 'goody bag'.

The inspiration for the course came from Canon Maurice Smith, director of education at Manchester Diocese, at a headteachers’ meeting.

He explained how he is a football referee whose qualification came during his younger days, when, in order to be a member of the university football team, players had to undertake a referees’ qualification in order for there to be an 'appreciation of both sides' of the game.

Many of the children who attended the ATSA course are members of their school football teams.

And the timing of the course was significant as the ATSA football leagues are due to commence after the February half term.

The course, which was attended by pupils from St. George's Central, St. Michael's, Garrett Hall, St. Philip's, Meadowbank, Sacred Heart and Hindsford, will become an annual event.