My Sporting Life: Refereeing, London 2012 and darts

This week, lawyer Simon Leaf on lessons learned on the pitch, the magic of London 2012, and playing darts on live TV.

What is your sporting passion?

Theres no sport I dont love to get involved with. Im incredibly fortunate to work with clients involved in all kinds of sport from football to boxing, snooker and darts. My weekends are mostly spent on a touchline at live games and events. What Im really passionate about though is the impact sport has on developing essential life skills – dealing with failure, learning to work as a team and driving self-confidence. There are few things in life that you cant learn on a pitch.

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How did you first get into sport?

Ive been a sport fanatic for as long as I can remember. While most kids were glued to Art Attack, I was up at 6am watching Transworld Sport. When asked as an eight-year-old what animal I would most like to be, without hesitation I answered “a pigeon” to be able to fly into every match at Lords, Twickenham and Wembley.

Do you also participate in sport?

Unfortunately, despite my passion for sport, the sporting gods were taking tea when it came to assigning talent. Hence my “decision” to become a football referee aged 16. My weekends spent on Hackney Marshes werent completely wasted though, as I went on to officiate at a decent standard – including the Premier League Reserves.

Simon can't escape the law even outside of work (Source: Simon Leaf)

I also spent a lot of my teenage years throwing arrows, culminating in the Varsity Darts Match at university, which was shown live on the BBC. Sadly, as YouTube will attest, this was not Simon “The Thief” Leafs finest hour.

Most cherished sporting moment?

The impact that London 2012 had on the country is something that Ill never forget. Being in the Olympic Park on Super Saturday and seeing the power sport has to bring people together was incredible.

Greatest hope in sport?

That everyone involved in sport continues to prioritise and encourage fans of all ages and ability to participate and engage – be it by facilitating regular events where players and spectators come together or, like Arsenal recently did, going out of their way so that my 95-year old, football-mad grandad can still access home matches, eight decades after his first.

Simon with his football-mad grandad at his beloved Arsenal (Source: Simon Leaf)

If you could change one thing about sport, what would it be?

Certain sports have not embraced new technology – particularly those relating to fan engagement and consuming content. More needs to be done to take advantage of the available technology as sporting events will be one of the few things left that brings people together from around the world at exactly the same time. Its a fantastic business opportunity for those that can get it right.

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