04/11/2011 will be a day that sticks in the memories of some Westfield students for years to come. I had arranged the visit of 39-year-old Howard Webb, who was appointed MBE in the New Year Honors list after he became the first Englishman to referee a World Cup final since 1974, spent the morning at Westfield Sports College with the aim of inspiring and raising the aspirations of its pupils. Mr. Webb, who is currently on a five-year break from his day job as a sergeant with South Yorkshire Police, spoke about his experiences at the 2010 South Africa World Cup and how he had set himself goals in his refereeing career.
Howard Webb, spoke in the Year 11 assembly and conducted a question and answer session with the Young Leaders. Rotherham-born Howard – regarded as one of the top referees in the world – also signed autographs, passed around his world cup final medal for students to see and touch, gave plenty of advice and posed for numerous photos.
He talked at length about the resilience he needs, how he bounces back if he has a bad game and how important it is to have different experiences and learn from mistakes. Howard was absolutely fantastic, and his message was that if he can go from being a miner’s son to refereeing in front of a worldwide audience of a billion people, it shows what can be achieved through aiming high and not giving in.
One student asked Howard a rather interesting question “Why on earth did you not send Nigel De Jong of in the World Cup Final?” Howard then proceeded to act out the whole incident using Mr Leonard and Mr Milns as props, whilst explaining “I was looking directly through the back of Xabi Alonso which wasn’t a good position but it was the best position for that phase of play. The ball bounced, Alonso headed it and fell backwards and De Jong was to the side with his arms up in an admission of guilt it was obvious something had happened. It was 27 minutes into the game. This was the pinnacle of people’s careers. Am I going to guess? Send him off on a possible? Then everybody says: “That was never a red card in a million years”. I was never going to gamble. I like to have a level of certainty. I believe it is preferable to miss something that happened than give something that hasn’t.
It is not often a school gets to host a visit from a sports personality of this stature so everyone connected with Westfield feel very privileged and we are sure our students will learn a great deal from this visit.
He is an exceptional person and the opportunity to meet somebody like him does not come along very often, all of the students and staff we’re delighted he was able to come here.