Lessons from the pitch
Lessons from the pitch
Referee and former footballer Camine Sangiovanni shares the things football has taught him.
sportanddv.org caught up with our ambassador Carmine Sangiovanni to learn more about how his professional involvement in football has helped him develop various social skills. He played football actively for over 20 years, until he became a referee when he was 29. He has refereed both in Switzerland and internationally and serves as a trainer in junior football.
What social skills have you learned through playing football and through refereeing?
As a young boy playing football, I already learnt how to behave in a team and how to deal with other children. To integrate myself into a team, adapt and stand up for my teammates. To pursue and achieve goals as a team. To foster camaraderie and respect my teammates and opposition. To participate and help with club life - a club only functions if it has volunteers who help keep it alive.
As a referee, I have gotten to know how to deal with other people. I find that not everyone likes referees. On the pitch, I make decisions and ensure that the rules of football are followed. As a referee, you are often criticised. Criticism isn’t always easy. I would claim that during all my years as a referee, the most important thing I’ve learnt is to handle criticism. Refereeing is a school of life. You learn a lot about yourself: taking responsibility for your decisions, respectfully dealing with players, trainers, club officials and spectators.
How do you think your experiences in football have developed these skills?
I learnt respect and decency from my parents of course. However, what football has given me in addition is the ability to use and further develop this respect and decency, and apply it in real life. You learn to get along with each other through ups and downs and, above all, during moments where it isn’t going so well. You learn to help each other.
What are some important social issues that you and your colleagues work towards solving or improving as referees?
At the beginning of the season, we always have a focus which we have to implement. One of the most important is to “protect the image of the game” and “protect the players”. We have the responsibility to ensure the matches run fairly. It is especially important in the [Swiss] Super League, where games are televised, that we contribute to that and fulfil our obligations.