Last month, four Queensland teams and four Queensland Referees made the trip to Darwin to officiate the U16 National Championships. We caught up with them for a chat about what it’s like to referee games at a national level.
Ben Tierney, Northside Wizards
Experience: 10 years
Expectations are high, and experience is worth its weight in gold at the national level according to Ben.
“There were a number of games in preparation leading up to the tournament, not only to get the teams ready, but also to get the referees in the right state of mind.”
“You’re also expected to watch videos of your own games, identifying any errors and room for improvement, as well as things you did well that you need to continue.”
Not only is the standard high, but the intensity and pace is more physically demanding.
“Luckily, there are plenty of refs so your body isn’t feeling as tired and worn out by the end.”
Finally, Ben has two pieces of advice for young referees hoping to attend national games,
“Go into each game thinking about what your supervisor tells you to work on and try to improve on your last game, they’re looking for progress not perfection. And, as cliché as it may be, work hard because you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t!”
Elliot Lynch, Townsville Heat
Experience: 5 – 6 years
Elliot put in a lot of time to prepare for the national tournament, officiating any game he could and spending his spare time watching game tapes.
“Being a national referee takes a lot more effort, there is a lot more self-directed learning and education, and you have to put in lots of work to get the results you want.”
Despite the challenge, Elliot found that the experience he gained during the tournament was invaluable to his development.
“I’ve always struggled to ‘look’ like a referee, and that’s something I need to develop further. For me there’s still a long way to go, but I’ve gained new techniques and different ways of reviewing calls.”
Elliot’s advice is to always look for opportunities to improve, and if you can get a referee coach to watch your game, you can rapidly raise your skill.
Kyle Zulian, Rockhampton Cyclones
Experience: 8 years
For Kyle, the tournament was a chance to improve and test himself on a higher level.
“It’s expected that we can stay above the level of the game and be able to run for the full length of the game, being mentally and physically fit for the games go hand-in-hand, because if you’re unfit it starts to tire you out and affects your decision making.”
Kyle was required to officiate two games on one day, which for him was a valuable learning experience.
“I learnt new terms to help officiate better and new ways of communicating with coaches and players, I also learnt ways to adjust my position on the floor to make sure I have better vision of the play to get the right call.”
The advice that Kyle would give to up and coming referees is always be prepared to learn,
“If you come across a situation where you’re unsure of what happens, straight after the game go look it up in the rules so that you know for next time. Always have a learning attitude.”
Kathryn O’Brien, Toowoomba Mountaineers
Experience: 8 years
On top of QBL games, Kathryn officiated at as many local club games as she could to keep her technique and fitness level high in preparation for the national tournament.
“I also completed gym sessions to improve specific fitness requirements, which had a huge impact.”
For Kathryn, being able to maintain a high degree of professionalism on and off the court was necessary, alongside general fitness and game knowledge.
“It really comes down to how you present yourself to the public eye. Whilst a club or state tournament might be a bit more relaxed than a national tournament, how you are perceived by others travels through the grapevine, so, leaving a positive and true representation of yourself behind has to count for something.”
Kathryn found that working on her fitness made it physically and mentally easier to officiate games.
“You may hear from everyone, that you should eat the right foods and make sure you include some sort of physical activity in your daily activities. It’s not a lie. What you put in your body makes a huge difference. It may not be for everyone, but I noticed a massive change when I started a vegetarian diet.”