The match officials tasked with taking charge of the country’s top domestic men’s competition will be ready to meet the challenge after being put through their paces in several Stirling Sports Premiership workshops.
A series of regional events have been held across New Zealand throughout October with 56 participants in total attending either the Palmerston North, Timaru or Auckland meetings.
Those taking part included the full range of match officials – referees, assistant referees and assessors – and a wide range of topics were covered, in both theoretical and practical sessions.
The content included an update on the amendments to the Laws of the Game, targets for the upcoming season, trends in the game and advice on team work when operating as a match official trio.
Specific aspects of the game such as offside, penalty area incidents and handball were also covered.
While the workshops were aimed at the Stirling Sports Premiership panel, some officials from the National Youth League and National Women’s League were also in attendance.
New Zealand Football Referees Development Manager Ken Wallace says the staging of such gatherings serves many purposes as the national league season draws ever closer.
“For a start, it’s a good chance to get everyone together and for the referees to get to know who they’ll be working with,” he says.
“But it’s also an opportunity to get unity and conformity across the board and to ensure that all referees are applying the laws in the same way. It’s important to stay up to date with all the current trends in refereeing and we had some fantastic resources from FIFA which were of huge benefit.”
The workshops were the final stage of a busy period of preparations for the match officials set to take part in New Zealand’s three national league competitions, which all kick off this weekend as the Stirling Sports Premiership, National Women’s League and National Youth League get underway.
A timely FIFA Referee Course was held at the end of September to coincide with the FIFA Live Your Goals Week – which aimed to promote female football – and was targeted towards the officials on the National Women’s League panel.
Wallace is pleased to be able to offer such opportunities for referees to hone their skills and is confident the standards will be high when the first whistles are blown this weekend.
“We have a strong referee development programme in place and have a good mix of experience and up-and-coming referees,” he says.
“The range of national leagues on offer provide them with the perfect platforms to develop further and we are looking forward to seeing who can step up to the next level.”
Stirling Sports Premiership Match Officials Panel
Referees: Matt Conger, Anna-Marie Keighley, Chris Kerr, Peter Linney, Hayden McCabe, Cory Mills, Antony Riley, John Rowbury, Nick Waldron, Campbell-Kirk Waugh
Assistant Referees: Mazhar Batoor, Glen Lochrie, Simon Lount, Avnit Maharaj, Stephen Merriman, Hayden Tutbury, Pat Zhang, Sarah Jones, Carl Watkins, Trent Pedley, Mark Rule, Gareth Sheehan, Ashton Davenport, Edward Cook, Robert Fleetham, Mark Whitehead, Cameron Gruschow, Richard Jones, Michael Love, Ben O’Connell, Regan Preston, Isaac Trevis, Calvin Berg, Jack Cowie, Craig Campbell, Andrea Verolino