My Other Life: Lee Venamore, Covéa, football referee

Lee Venamore

Venamore, regional manager South for Covéa, spends his spare time refereeing football

How did your interest in refereeing start?

I played a lot of football as a kid but, when I was 17, I had a nasty knee injury that meant I couldn’t play for most of the season. I, therefore, took the referee exam and, once fit again, began refereeing kids’ football. For a few years, I played football while refereeing and progressed into the local men’s leagues. I then realised that I had the potential to progress further as a referee than as a player, so focused on my refereeing.

Lee Venamore referee

What have been the highlights so far?

I’ve had many highlights throughout my refereeing career, including running the line at Brighton & Hove Albion, Reading, Queens Park Rangers and Norwich in the Championship and a local derby between Swindon and Oxford earlier this season.

I’ve also had the opportunity to referee at many of the country’s top grounds in the Premier League Development league, including Stamford Bridge and the Emirates last season for Arsenal player Jack Wilshere’s first game back from injury.

My biggest highlight, however, came in May, when I was selected as assistant referee for the English Football League Division 2 playoff final at Wembley between Blackpool FC and Exeter City FC. To officiate at Wembley has always been a dream of mine and I felt very proud lining up for the national anthem in our national stadium.

Any crossover between refereeing and your insurance day job?

Acting as a referee or assistant referee is similar to my role as regional manager in many ways. On the football pitch, it’s all about assessing a situation and using all the information you have available before making your decision. It is also important I work well with my referee colleagues as a team and also that my communication with them and the players is clear and concise.

Both on the pitch and in our business, it is crucial we all understand what we are looking to achieve and how we are going to achieve it and many of the skills I have learnt have helped me lead my region, with the help of my branch managers, development managers and staff in the three offices across the South, to be the best team on the pitch.

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