Ashwoods Electric Motors’ Product Manager, Louis Coker, can often be found on the football pitch in his spare time. Shirt, shorts, socks and boots on, but substitute shin pads for a whistle and you will quickly realise that Louis (or ‘Ref!’ as he is accustomed to) is not, in fact, a player, but an official.
From his Exeter base, Louis officiates across the South West Peninsula League as both a linesman and ‘the man in the middle’. With four years’ experience under his belt, Louis started refereeing U13s football in Scotland, rising through the youth ranks of professional academies to his current position in amateur and semi-professional men’s football in England.
When asked for his most memorable moment thus far in his officiating career, Louis was quick to highlight a Celtic vs Rangers U17s game.
“The tempo was so fast – I was already tired after ten minutes! I couldn’t believe there was a crowd of 150 or more for an U17s fixture!”
There are two main differences between youth football and the men’s game according to Louis. A higher level of physicality and more talking back.
“You get some who don’t know what they’re talking about, and others who have dropped down from the professional game, refuse to face reality but still love to complain!”
Louis attributes the way in which he does his job on a day-to-day basis to his learnings from the football pitch. Keeping calm at all times and taking ownership of your decisions, he lists as transferable skills from the turf to the office.
“You’re constantly making decisions during a game. This sets me up very well for my job in sales.”
Louis aims to gain promotion to ‘Level 4’ for next season, which means he could be officiating the Western League – levels 9 and 10 on the football pyramid. Gaining marks from both managers at the end of the game as well as observations from ex-professional referees, he hopes to get enough positive reviews to continue his rise through the leagues.
Maybe we’ll see him on Match of the Day in the future, keep your eyes peeled – it’s not over yet!