As part of Referee Recognition Week across Northern NSW, we asked one of our senior referees why he refs and why he initially decided to become a referee…
I first officially refereed in Sydney in the Sutherland Shire Competition, after I was encouraged to by the head of the referees at the time, who saw me doing a club referee duty (which more than half the games are in that competition). I had done these club games regularly each weekend and found that I enjoyed the experience and also the free pies that followed. I found that once I became an Official Ref and got paid in actual money I enjoyed it even more and I learnt so much in a short space of time as well.
When I moved to Ballina in 1999 it actually didn’t occur to me to continue with reffing. I guess new parenthood, establishing my carpentry business and playing got in the way. It wasn’t until 2014 that I restarted refereeing, after much encouragement from Len Keith who, in part due to my vocal abilities as a player, thought it might be something I could do to prolong my soccer participation. I also encouraged my daughter Samantha to do it as a source of income, as due to her school hours and sporting endeavors, part-time employment was hard to come by. Refereeing did and continues to offer the flexibility that she requires. She has gone on to excel as an AR in Premier League and at State Titles, and now she is starting to do senior centres as well as JPL games.
I have gotten immense enjoyment out of what I term as my second soccer life. By taking up the whistle again I have gotten to extend my playing days and continue to participate at a high local level. The camaraderie amongst the referees and the engagement I have with players and officials from all clubs, not just the ones I played with is the best part. I now know and interact with others across the region at all clubs that I would never have met as a player only.
I really love the times when I get to referee with Samantha, sometimes as her AR, its great family time for us and gives us a shared interest to discuss and enjoy. Funnily my wife now comes to games to watch the referees!!! Sam and I also watch games on TV and watch the officials.
I encourage players of all ages to give it a go, especially the ex-players or even the nearly ex-players. You will have a great time and meet new friends while getting fitter than you were as a player. It will teach the younger ones great life skills and the older ones rules they never knew.