It’s official! A Bedford graduate who is set to start his first teaching job has become the youngest ever person on the Football League list.
Josh Smith, 22, who begins his career in the classroom as a maths and PE teacher at Dunstable’s All Saints Academy this September, has been placed on the National List of Assistant Referees.
This means he can run the line for matches at Championship, League One and League Two level, which are the second, third and fourth tiers of English football.
He has also jumped up to Level 2B, which will see him referee matches in the two divisions at the sixth tier (Conference North and South).
The new season kicks off on the weekend of August 8 and 9, and he can’t wait for the whistle to blow.
Josh, who studied Physical Education (QTS) at the University of Bedfordshire’s Bedford campus, said: “I’m excited about starting the new season and proud of my achievements having worked very hard to get where I am.
“I’m most looking forward to walking out on my first Football League game as I have been told by others it is a feeling that stays with you forever.”
Josh passed his basic referees course as a 14-year-old in 2007, officiating first of all in the Peterborough and District Youth League.
From there his growing career certainly hasn’t flagged, rising up the levels until he reached the Football Conference (5th tier) last year, officiating matches live on BT Sport.
“My aims and goals have constantly changed throughout my time at the university, however one of my goals in my final year was to achieve promotion to the Football League,” he added.
“With refereeing being such a competitive field my main aim is to ensure that I am able to perform to the best levels possible in every game and continue to enjoy officiating.”
Josh has also coached four university referees who are now level 4 referees operating within the semi-professional game.
For that, he was awarded the Platinum Performance, Coach and Officials Sport Scholarship by the university in December, ensuring he stayed onside in his refereeing career.
“The scholarship aided me financially throughout my time at the university as I was able to purchase important equipment to use when I was refereeing, such as electronic flags.
“The free gym membership has also allowed me to continue to progress my fitness levels and ensure I am in the best physical shape to officiate on the Football League.”
Mark Bowler, Course Leader for the BA (Hons) degree in Physical Education (Secondary) leading to QTS, says he’s pleased that Josh will be able to express his passion for sport with the teaching skills learnt on the course.
“Josh balanced his university and officiating responsibilities very well,” he said. “A mature, genuine and popular student, he was graded as ‘outstanding’ against the Teachers’ Standards in his final placement.
“We look forward to him balancing his passions for teaching and officiating as he moves into his first teaching job in September.”