REFEREES REPRESENTATIVE HONOURS Next Tuesday 368 Junior Touch players will have the honour of proudly pulling on the jersey of their home state when they do battle in the School Sport Australia Combined Touch Tournament. But this year’s tournament will not only showcase the cream of the nation’s best 12 Years and Under and 15 Years and Under players, it will also feature a record number of up and coming junior referees who will represent their State in the event. The 16 junior girls and boys, aged between twelve and seventeen, will be Level 1 and Level 2 ATA accredited referees. They have been selected to represent their States at this event after various State junior and school events in 2004, impressing their respective State Refereeing Panels with their potential and performances. Nine junior referees from Queensland, six from NSW and 1 from South Australia will be working over four days of intense competition featuring round games, finals and special lightning 15 minute Mix and Match Mixed games for the 12 years and Under division. The junior referees, who also will be vying for upgrades and finals appointments, will be mentored by experienced and more qualified referees. The mentor referees will include Level 5 and 6 referees who will lend their advice, expertise, encouragement and leg speed to help aid in the progression and development of the junior referees at this tournament. Referee coaching by members of the Queensland Referee Management Team and qualified Referee Coaches will also aid the junior officials in the acquisition of skills, confidence, knowledge, and practice through evaluation, review, reflection and action. School Sport Australia National Secretary for Touch and QTA State Director of Referees Ray Grieshaber (or `Griesy’ as he’s known to the touch community), has been the driving force behind the School Sport Australia initiative, which is being promoted in all Schools Sport Australia events to increase opportunities for junior officials. “It’s very important that we provide pathways for young people, and it’s not just refereeing, future initiatives will try and encompass other technical areas such as Selecting, Coaching and Event management,” he said. Ray, a member of the ATA National Referee Panel, has inspired many referees to progress through his passion, dedication, encouragement and expertise and it is with a great deal of pride that `Griesy’ reflects upon the swelling number of junior participants who will don the white shirt and put the whistle to their lips early next week. “We’ve been encouraging junior officials to attend these tournaments for around seven years, but in the last four years we’ve been able to put in place a lot of development policies which are starting to bear fruit,” he said. “The most Junior Referees we’ve fielded in the past has been six, so to get sixteen is just brilliant, but a big wrap must go to a development and support structure, which has enabled students to access these opportunities.” The combined efforts of the Australian Touch Association, Qld Primary Schools and Qld Secondary Schools Touch to assist in helping with travel and accommodation costs for student referees has allowed many the chance to attend this tournament over the last four to five years. It is hoped that the positive experiences gained from participation at this level will encourage junior officials to continue a progressive pathway in the sport for the future. “From Qld we’ve got student referees from as far away as North Queensland, Wide Bay, and Kingaroy attending as well as students from the South and Sunshine Coasts and Brisbane Metropolitan areas who’ll be refereeing after being identified as future refereeing talents.” “NSW have also gotten behind this and are sending a strong contingent of junior referees and a couple of senior referees to assist with refereeing and development, and the fact South Australia have nominated a referee augers well for them in the future…it’s great to see, but we’ll need more of it,” he said. Next week people will talk of tremendous touchdowns, brilliant ball skills and desperate defence. Wonderful whistle tones, superlative signals, and fantastic fives won’t get much of a run, I’d imagine. The’ warrior in white’ won’t have crowds endlessly chanting their name or be lifted onto anyone’s shoulders, but if at game’s end you can raise a cheer and recognise the wonderful talent, dedication, and skill these young referees have displayed, it will go a long way to encouraging and building their growth in the future. Our sport exists because of the collaborative efforts of all arms of the sport, and in particular our volunteer officials. It is up to us all to encourage the future of the game by recognising and appreciating the efforts of these young people in their chosen area of endeavour. Written by Karley Banks 21st October 2004.
Previous Post: Australia Win All Divisions at Masters Trans Tasman