Northern Inland Referee and, Kootingal Football FC player, Mick Barber has been involved in football his entire life alongside his brothers and his father, Bob Barber.
During that time, he has seen lots of changes in the sport as both a player and a referee, including rule changes, introduction of technology, improved experience as a referee and a significant increase in teamwork and communication.
Mick started playing football when he was just 4 years old and was already refereeing by the age of 10.
“I’m 43-years-old now and continue to referee and play because I love the game and what it has to offer,” said Barber.
He has played more than 400 senior games for Kootingal Football Club from ages 17 – 43, (surpassed by only two others, including his brother), however has said one of his most favoured accomplishments, was being lucky enough to have played and captained the Gomeroi Maliyan-Go men’s team at the Indigenous Championships in Nowra.
In terms of refereeing, Mick was inspired by his father Bob, who is no stranger in the Northern Inland football circles, a Life Member of Northern Inland Referees as well as two clubs within the region.
“Dad put me through my course back in the day.
“Seeing him referee, his calmness, control and the respect he received from players and coaches was awesome.
“Everyone in the Northern Inland area knows who Bob Barber is, and whilst he is no longer an active referee, he’s still passing on his knowledge to younger referees,” Barber said.
Mick simply loves being involved in the game, having clocked up near to 1,000 games as a Match Official, and during that time says he’s refereed some ‘young ones’ in the early days and is now refereeing their kids!
“There is so much mateship and support for one another in our region, and it’s great to see so many new, young referees coming through.”
Mick believes football plays a good part in the celebration of our Indigenous athletes.
“It has opened more pathways for Indigenous players such as Jade North and Lydia Williams who are good examples for young Indigenous players.”
Having both refereed and played at the National Indigenous Football Championships Mick says competitions such as it, are great examples of opportunities for Indigenous players.
“You are playing for the love of the game. Attitudes are left at the gate.”
And when asked what the 2020 NAIDOC Theme, “Always Was, Always Will Be” meant to him, Mick put it simply and succinctly:
“It is our land, our history, our culture. We are one.”