Name: Liam Kalanj
Zone: North Coast Football
Years Officiating: 3
Liam Kalanj has loved and played football since he was five, progressing to representative levels on the North Coast, it was his passion for the game that initially prompted him to give refereeing a go.
Since becoming a match official three years ago at the young age of 13, Liam admits it has given him a whole different outlook on the game and has improved his playing.
“My love of football prompted me to want to explore another side of the game,” said Liam.
“Not only that, as a player, I wanted to know the rules of the game as an added advantage.
“The teamwork and family-oriented atmosphere is a bonus when officiating.
“My mentors have guided me, and I appreciate how refereeing can help to build resilience, make new mates and develop your leadership skills.
“Another pretty good benefit is the fact you have the best viewpoint when watching a good game of football!” said Liam.
In such a short time, Liam has already achieved a lot as a referee having been invited to attend the Talented Officials Program (TOP) Camp, and officiating in FFA Cup, NPL and the North Coast Football Men’s Premier Division, and he wants that list of achievements to keep growing.
“As an immediate goal, I would like to officiate a Men’s Reserve game in the centre and also referee at the Boys Nationals,” he said.
“I really want to take make officiating as far as I can. The ultimate goal would be to centre referee at a Liverpool FC match at Anfield.”
Liam has grown to understands the hard tasks referees face and as a top, young player himself, has experienced rather tough encounters when out in the middle but he acknowledges the how much these challenges have taught him and developed his skills.
“As a young official, abuse can really lower your self-esteem and even push you the point of quitting,” he said.
“Games can be hard enough to officiate with the added side of being yelled at…[but] most players, coaches and spectators are respectful and courteous.
“Quite recently, I was the referee for a very high-stakes game and a lot of my mates were on one team making it hard to keep the balance. During the game I was in a position where I had to follow the rules and send off a player. This player happened to be a friend.
“What I learnt from this game is that mates will respect you if you are doing your job and following the rules, even if at the time things don’t go in their favour.”
Whether you’re a player, volunteer and just a general fan of football, Liam suggests that others interested should get involved and encouraged his fellow players to step up to the task.
“If you want to learn life skills and be involved in a new perspective of football then definitely take up refereeing,” he said.
“Even though you will encounter tough situations, the people who rally around you really make you feel like part of a family. I feel that I am a better player and officiator balancing both sides.
“It is a beautiful game and we need more referees out there who love football.”
Thank you, Liam and all his fellow match officials, for their contribution to our great game.