20 years old and already a veteran

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20 years old and already a veteran
At 12 years old Jesper Olsson started his career as a referee. Except for it being a noteworthy age to begin any career at, it’s also exceptional to see someone starting off at that age and still 8 years later have the same goals and dreams. Today Jesper is a division 2 ice hockey lineman in the southern region of Sweden and has his eyes set on SHL - The Swedish Hockey League. We had the chance to sit down with Jesper and talk to him about his experience as a young referee, how he handles harsh criticism and his secret to becoming a better referee. 

Today Jesper works all over the southern region of Sweden. He is himself situated in Ronneby, Blekinge which means the routes can get long. For Jesper, however, that’s not an issue. He loves being a lineman and intends to keep at it. 

It all started when Jesper was 12

If you do the math you’ll quickly figure out that Jesper, despite his young age, has been a referee almost half his life. His career started with the opportunity to be a young referee at 12 years old.

-I started out back in 2012 as a youth referee and by 2016 I moved on to the district level. And this season I’ve leveled up to division 2. I used to be a goalie but since I started out as a referee I’ve always felt like I’m closer to the game now than as a goalie. What I do now allows me to face the game in another way and I’m forced to be present and it’s exciting. I get to face a lot of challenging decisions and I like that, explained Jesper.  

  • Skating won

    The fact that Jesper today judges hockey wouldn’t always have been your first guess. Growing up he played pretty much every sport there is. So, we just had to ask him why he chose ice hockey. 

    -I love team sports. I used to play football, hockey, floorball and handball at the same time when I was younger. Why I chose hockey is a good question, he answered  

    How do you handle the high level of emotion?

    It’s no secret that ice hockey is an intense sport, both on and beside the rink. And one can’t help but wonder how someone at such a young age handles the potential criticism and emotions from players, coaches and audiences. 

    • I’m a very open person and I always try to play my cards openly. If I make a mistake, I own up to it. And it seems like that attitude rubs off on everyone else. If you face a humble referee you are more likely to accept their calls. In this sport it should be allowed to react, but then again you shouldn’t go too far. I can handle a first reaction but I don’t need the second one, said Jesper.


    “I use RefCom and it works extremely well”

    As the game proceeds the pressure is on for Jesper and his colleagues. And since hockey is, without a doubt, one of the highest pace sports there is they have to be on top. Luckily there are tools out there to help. 

    • You have to be on your toes all the time because anything can happen. I’ve been a part of trying out Spintso’s RefCom system, and it works extremely well. Through the system’s mic us linemen can give the head judge and each other live feedback and help. In that way we are able to see and judge the game in a more fair way - and foremost a faster way. It makes it a whole lot easier, said Jesper. 


    We want to thank Jesper for talking to us and giving us an insight to being a referee in such an action filled sport and at such an age. We wish you all the best in your future career, Jesper!

20 years old and already a veteran