By Lawrence Machado
Refereeing may not seem glamorous but several girls are taking up the whistle to control rugby league games.
All sports have challenges recruiting young referees but the trick is to give it a go and take it from there.
Parramatta District Rugby League Referees Association president Robert Morey himself started as a teenager and says it can be a very rewarding job, provided you stay on.
The association provides officials for the Hills, Seven Hills, Toongabbie, Parramatta, Greystanes, Holroyd, Fairfield, Cabramattta, Edensor Park and Mt Pritchard areas for the more than 180 games they run each weekend.
“I started to compete with my brother who had started the year before, showing him that I could do it better,” Morey said. “I was 14 and this was technically my first job, a fun way to earn some pocket money.”
Morey said they need around 20 new referees each season and they may later officiate in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball rep games. “I think you will enjoy it a lot more than you may anticipate and you will definitely make some good friends,” said Morey, speaking from experience. “It is also a great way to get paid to keep fit.”
Newcomer Maisy Macarthur, 13, says it’s important to be confident in the decisions you make and to believe in yourself.
“As a female in a male-dominated sport, I am always going to face challenges and some of these include earning people’s respect, and people believing I am too young,” said the Eels fan. “Give it a go and don’t be scared, everyone is so friendly.”
Calliope Harvey, 15, is a second year referee who was inspired by her dad. A diehard league fan, Calliope gives it 110 per cent each week but admits it can be sometimes intimidating to take charge on the pitch. “To overcome this challenge, I like to reflect on how far I’ve come in such a short time and remember each week is a learning experience,” Calliope said.
She said the structure is good and refereeing is “a great way to make a bit of extra pocket money”.
Olivia Lawne, 18, is the veteran among the girls, having been a referee for six years. She started at 13 because she could not play league with the boys anymore.
“When I first started, I struggled with confidence, but like anything new, once you do it a few times, you improve and feel more comfortable,” Olivia said.
“Give it a crack, you don’t know what to expect or what it will be like until you try. We give you all the training and information you need.”
The season officially starts after the April school holidays. To try out, contact Isaac El Hassan at: firstname.lastname@example.org