SquashMatch interviewed Roy Gingell, a World referee who referees at international matches across the world. Here's his story....
I started playing in 1979 in Maesteg Squash Club and I played there recreationally and then progressed to team squash, and ended up captaining my team (which meant having to referee matches). In 1981 I went on a referee course in Cardiff. I passed the course and started to help referee events and help more of the teams at Maesteg. In the early 90s I was at the bottom of the referee grading system as a D-4 referee (the top referees are A-1). Super League came to Maesteg around 96/97 and this meant refereeing top World Class players. I was then invited to the European Championships and managed to get assessed and passed. In 1998/99 I became a regional/European referee and in 2000 I became an International referee, appointed for three years. After these three years, I became a World referee and have been on the World Referee list since 2004.
Refereeing at this level is fantastic. It’s all about respect. The players respect what I do, and I respect what they do. They give me stick but it’s a great pleasure to referee at this level.
I do have another job outside of refereeing. It’s a full time job – in sport – but I work flexible hours and manage squash around my work. I do take the majority of my annual leave to attend squash events though.
Hobbies-wise, I am heavily involved in sport, both in and out of work. I played cricket to a high standard when I was younger, I’m involved with my local squash club, and I do like good food and cinema as well.
The best thing about refereeing is the travel. I have a very healthy passport after having visited countries like New York, Hong Kong, Bermuda, as well as all over Europe. We get looked after in many of the countries we visit and it makes it very pleasing to travel all those miles.
One of the downsides is that the learning curve is tough. Making bad decisions is tough. I have made errors, but it’s about reflection and getting the next decision correct. One instance in particular was when I got the decision wrong and the outcome of the match changed because of it – it was the British Open first round Peter Nicol v Paul Johnson in 1997. Paul had the match ball and at the end of one rally, Peter Nicol hit the tin and both players shook hands. I told the players to return to the court as I thought one of Paul’s shots was down, but he went on to lose the match. Knowing what I know now, that situation would never happen to me again – it’s all part of the learning curve as a top class referee. The match should have been Paul’s, and he didn’t speak to me for a number of years after that.
If you want to be a referee, you need to know and understand the rules. The best example is Karim Darwish who always asks “why?” Those three words can make or break a referee. You need to understand the rules and give a correct explanation as to why you have called a certain decision.
I’ve never been so into a game that I forgot I was refereeing (although some of the players would say otherwise!)
There is a referee Code of Conduct, so we have to be very careful in never socialising with any of the players at events. I do socialise with some of the Welsh players at events though.
Personally, I think we could try for a 2-referee system again (alongside the video review) as the 3-referee system brings its own set of difficulties in managing the three referees and managing the decisions.