Northern NSW Football has launched its 2021 Newcastle Permanent Referee Recognition Week with the theme of showing respect to match officials.
The week, from Monday 19 July to Sunday 25 July, is Northern NSW Football’s annual celebration of match officials and provides the football community with the chance to express their gratitude and appreciation for referees and their assistants.
The week is also a reminder that match officials are valued members of the football family to be respected by players, coaches, volunteers and supporters.
Northern NSW Football Head of Football Development Peter Haynes said the annual initiative, devised by NNSWF’s long-term community partner Newcastle Permanent, aimed to highlight the role of match officials across northern NSW and encouraged members of the football community to show their appreciation.
“Officiating a match is often a thankless task. But without our referees we wouldn’t be able to play our beautiful game,” Haynes said.
“Referees and assistant referees play a key role in not just allowing players to go out and play but also keeping our players safe. Then there are our referee assessors and coaches who are also such a vital part of our sport as they help teach and educate our referees of the future.
“We encourage all our members to show their respect and appreciation towards our referees during the week, particularly thanking them for their efforts in ensuring a safe environment, underlined by a sense of fair play, for everyone.”
Hunter Valley-based referee Lucy Hungerford, 15, said while refereeing had its challenges, being a match official had given her some memorable experiences.
“What I love most about refereeing is having control over making sure that the game is being played fairly. It keeps you fit and you get to meet lots of new people as well,” Lucy said.
“If [referees] already play or have played football they can get a better understanding for the game and it can build up your confidence in high-pressure situations as well.”
Football Far North Coast referee Olivia Flannery, 18, said she had received great encouragement and education to help make her career as a match official fulfilling and worthwhile.
“Some challenges are the abuse that I sometimes experience as a referee,” Olivia said.
“But there have been improvements to how we are encouraged to deal with abuse to make the role easier.”
Newcastle Permanent also support match officials throughout the season through its monthly Community Recognition Awards Program, where a referee from each of Northern NSW Football’s seven Member Zones is recognised and acknowledged for their outstanding contribution.
Newcastle Permanent’s Chief Customer Experience and Delivery Officer Paul Juergens said continual recognition of match officials was a step in the right direction to achieving greater awareness and respect for their work.
“We know referees and match officials play a vital role in community football,” Juergens said.
“They’re not only responsible for keeping players safe and making sure the rules of the game are followed but they also help create a great experience for players and spectators.
“Newcastle Permanent is proud to shine a light on their importance and contribution through our monthly Community Recognition Awards program. And this week, as part of our annual Referee Recognition Week campaign, we invite the football community to join in and say thanks.”
Northern NSW Football will continue to acknowledge referees throughout the week at northernnswfootball.com.au and through its social media channels.