Assistant referee Adam Nunn all set for FIFA World Cup in Qatar after heat training sessions at Team Bath Sports Science Centre
World Cup official Adam Nunn has been preparing for the high temperatures he will experience in Qatar over the next month by undertaking heat training sessions at the University of Bath.
The Premier League and FIFA assistant referee from Trowbridge has been doing weekly exercise and recovery sessions at the Team Bath Physio & Sports Science Centre in a plastic indoor chamber heated to more than 30 degrees Celcius.
That is alongside the regular strength and conditioning training he has been doing at the University over the past couple of years through a partnership with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
Nunn hopes the sessions will help him acclimatise quicker to the conditions in Qatar where he, fellow assistant Gary Beswick and referee Anthony Taylor will be officiating on the biggest footballing stage of all.
“It’s been fantastic that the University of Bath have allowed me to use the facilities for heat chamber sessions,” said Nunn, who has been working with Team Bath Applied Sports Scientist Jonathan Robinson.
“It’s obviously going to be very warm in Qatar and I’ve had an experience before where I’ve arrived at a tournament in similar conditions, so it’s important to be prepared and in the best possible position to acclimatise.
“I’ve been doing the sessions for six weeks or so, coming in two or three times a week and doing different things each time. It’s been dovetailed with our normal training programme and hopefully will put me in good stead for the World Cup.”
Nunn first started refereeing aged 14 after being among a group of junior players that Trowbridge Town FC put through an officiating course. What began as a hobby eventually became a profession when he gave up his amateur footballing career aged 21 to focus on refereeing full-time.
He and Beswick have been part of Taylor’s refereeing team for the past five years, with the trio officiating the 2020 FA Cup Final and several matches at last summer’s European Championships. So far this season Nunn has been involved with 13 Premier League fixtures plus Champions League matches at Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.
This will be his first World Cup, though, and he said: “I can’t wait. When you start out the World Cup is the pinnacle of what you want to achieve and to be selected is the ultimate honour.
“World Cup selection is a four-to-five year process and it’s a long time to sustain that performance level, so you need to have that good relationship with your team. Selection makes all the sacrifices, commitment and dedication worthwhile.”
To meet the intensity of elite-level football, PGMOL referees and officials follow training programmes featuring weekly sessions at regional centres around the country. These centres include the University of Bath, where Nunn and fellow officials from the South West have been working with Team Bath strength and conditioning coach Ricky Massiah.
“The sessions have been a huge benefit to us,” said Nunn. “Having someone like Ricky there to show what you are doing right and wrong, and give you guidance is invaluable and something you don’t get in your own gym at home.”
The heat training chambers were previously used by Pentathlon GB and the EIS Wheelchair Fencing Programme to prepare for Tokyo 2020, with the athletes going on to win three gold, three silver and five bronze medals between them.
Robinson said: “It has been widely proven by scientific research that that some form of heat acclimation programme can significantly improve an athlete’s performance in a hot environment. It doesn’t need to be via constant exposure, just a few well-chosen sessions a week over a month or so can be highly beneficial.
“We used our sessions with Adam solely as a heat acclimation tool, as he is training and officiating full-time so didn’t need to work on his fitness. Over the past month we have gradually increased the heat exposure in each session and Adam had tolerated this very well. We also provided Adam with some additional strategies and advice to cope with the heat whilst he is away.”