North Queensland referees are set to benefit from the appointment of former Queensland State League official Nathan O’Connor as NQ Football’s Zone Referee Development Officer.
O’Connor, Gold Coast’s Referee of the Year in 2004, held a similar position with Football Gold Coast from 2008 to 2012 before moving north to Townsville in recent years.
While the new role marks his return to refereeing in a formal capacity, O’Connor is looking forward to combining his knowledge of the area with his experience in referee development.
“It’s totally different up here to the Gold Coast but all of the principles are still the same. You’ve just got to implement them,” O’Connor said.
“I really want to work with junior referees. It’s not a short-term thing, it’s going to be a long-term project.
“I want to show the young referees what can be achieved and what they need to do to achieve it and start building from there.”
O’Connor helped develop the likes of leading Australian officials Jarred Gillett, Kate Jacewicz and Renae Coghill during his time on the Gold Coast and believes similar talent can be unearthed in North Queensland.
“I think there is potential here definitely and it just needs to be enhanced,” he said.
“I have some ideas from the Gold Coast which were successful there and I’ll see if we can implement them in North Queensland.
“The task at the moment is me setting some plans down for the future.
“It would be nice to get North Queensland referees back on the map.”
In addition to educating and developing referees, O’Connor will also work closely with local clubs – particularly ahead of the introduction of the new Laws of the Game for the 2017 community football season.
Football Queensland State Referees Development Officer David Wiebe praised the appointment as a major boost to refereeing in the region.
“It’s an important step in the right direction to see Nathan fill the position,” Wiebe said.
“Nathan has plenty of coaching expertise to offer and we will support him with him the right information and technology to develop his plans for local referees in line with FFA’s strategy.”