“I enjoy refereeing even more than playing”

Being a touch referee’s not just for those who don’t play; there are plenty of refs at Junior State Cup who both play and ref – and actually enjoy refereeing even more!

Fifteen-year-old Sarah loves playing touch footy, but out of the two, refereeing is her favourite. “We just have such a great community, everyone is so welcoming and lovely,” she says. “Being a ref has given me more confidence. I assert myself more.”

She started refereeing a year ago, and points out that it’s been great for her fitness. On Day 2 of JSC, she’s refereeing six games. “There’s a lot of running involved. I don’t know about myself, but a friend of ours, he covered 20 to 25km in one day [of this Junior State Cup].”

Harrison, 13, who became a ref about two years ago, agrees that being a ref is more rewarding than being a player. “I never thought I’d do all this, but they needed extra refs so I just gave it a go, it’s really fun. I still play touch, but I like refereeing more than playing,” he says. “And when you know all the rules of the game [from refereeing], you play better.”

Amanda Draper is a leading senior referee, referee coach and mentor. “I love that [the referee group] is my second family. I come away to ref and catch up with old friends.”

She says it’s given her skills that help in other areas of her life. “Negotiation skills!” Which she points out come in handy when you have six kids like she does. “All six of them are here [at JSC] for the first time. My eldest daughter referees, level four, my next daughter just had a baby but she’s here refereeing, she’s a level three, I have three children who are playing here, and a two-year-old who’s here as well, he’s an assistant selector.”

Referee at 2018 NSWJSC. Photography: Photos by Loopii

Graham Knights, President of the Manly-Warringah Touch Association, is refereeing at tournament level for the first time at JSC. “I wanted to try something different. And it’s a real eye-opener, actually, it’s been fantastic,” he says.

“Something that surprised me was that you’re actually allocated to a referees team. As a new person coming in, I was quite nervous, but when I was placed in a team with a whole bunch of other people, it was fantastic, it really helps. I can see that it really helps the young guys coming in, too.”

To find out more about being a referee and how to become one, head to: nswtouch.com.au/refereeing

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