Mike joined the Auckland referees in 2001 because he wanted to stay involved in the game and he realized he was coming to the end of his playing career. Having criticised referees in the past it was time to put up or shut up.
He rose through the refereeing ranks rapidly helped by his playing experience in the Northern League for Waiuku and Navy and work related experience in the NZ Navy.
He was part of the talent acceleration programme, attended the 2002 Referee Academy and was refereeing on New Zealand’s National League by 2004. He was appointed to the FIFA (International) List of referees in 2007. Games in Tahiti and Samoa followed and the year was capped with his appointment to the game in Wellington between the Phoenix v LA Galaxy.
2008 was just as memorable:
In 2009 he went to the Confederations Cup in South Africa where he refereed the crunch pool game between Egypt and the United State and then the FIFA U-17 tournament in Nigeria. Mike and his trio (Jan Hintz and Tevita Makasini) had a very good tournament and received five appointments including a semi final. This led to their appointment to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and a game between Greece and South Korea.
“Refereeing in Oceania has also presented some challenges. The island nations do have a different style of football to that here in New Zealand. Secondly, English is not always the first language of some teams so communicating and selling decisions can require some different techniques. Lastly, the environmental conditions can be pretty tough – refereeing in 35 degree heat and 95% humidity can be a bit tough, especially in black! These experiences are, however, really invaluable in learning how to adapt to different situations and becoming a better referee.”
“The FFA A-League is a professional league with professional players – it is therefore understandably a significantly higher quality than the NZFC as the players get to prepare properly and have extensive support networks around them. The skill level and pace of the game is significantly higher and the players also tolerate greater physicality without compromising the quality of play. To referee at the level is a real privilege and can only help in improving my refereeing in the future.”
“A wide range of attributes are key to a good referee. A good feeling of the game, physically fit, a sense of humour, a sense of fairness, the ability to make decisions under pressure, and the ability to learn. No one element is enough – you need to have the right mix of all of these attributes