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Joel Richards Development Fund

I am sure that you are all aware that myself, Joel, Ade and Grandad were all huge Walsall FC fans (the pride of the Midlands), but taking part in football was also a huge part of my family’s life.

Joel spent many years playing as a goalkeeper for local teams until he turned 16. At this point our uncle Ade encouraged him to look into refereeing. So off Joel went to take up the whistle on a local course at the Birmingham FA and he never looked back. It became a huge passion for not only Joel but also our Grandad, who was keeping track of every match Joel had ever refereed in a handwritten book.

Joel kicked on to show real talent and potential in refereeing with his natural ability to diffuse disagreements in a firm but fair manner. This did not go unnoticed with Joel quickly rising to become a level 4 referee at just 19 thanks to a double promotion as well as being invited on to a national steering group for young referees.

Joel Richards

Heartbreakingly, Joel’s football journey was cut short and we will never know for sure the great things that he would have gone on to achieve, but as a charity, Smile For Joel want to support those referees who are on a similar journey to Joel.

We are happy to announce that with the support of The Referees Association (RA) we have launched ‘The Joel Richards Development Fund’. This will be used to support young referees nationwide in a variety of ways from kit and flags, to funding their annual membership to The RA. The aim of this fund is to be able to reward those young referees who give back to those around them and encourage them to continue on in their football journey in the same way we know Joel would be doing if we were lucky enough to have him with us.

I truly believe this is something that reflects and represents how Joel was as a character and I know he would be tremendously embarrassed but also proud to have this in his name.

I hope you can spread the word and thank you for your support.

To find out more and to apply, visit or email

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