Football Queensland (FQ) referee Ryan Elton, named Referee of the Tournament at last week’s FFA National Youth Championships for Boys, called his five days at the tournament tough but rewarding.
Despite being a match official for the past six years, the National Youth Championships was Elton’s first taste of refereeing on the national stage, an opportunity he took with both hands.
FQ State Referee Manager David Wiebe said Elton has developed into one of the best referees in his age group.
“He’s a leader,” Wiebe said.
“He’s hit the level of maturity we look for in young referees and shows leadership off the park and maturity on the park.”
Elton said he was somewhat taken aback to receive the award.
“I was pretty blown away with the announcement, there was a lot of quality down there from the other states and from Queensland as well,” he said.
“So, it was quite an honour to be named the referee of the tournament.”
While Elton admitted the sheer number of games at the tournament were grueling, he said the experience gained made the hard work worth it.
“It was tough, very fatiguing on the body, the length of the tournament and the amount of games, but it was definitely rewarding when you come to the end of it, with all the friendships you make,” he said.
Elton officiated four games in the middle of the park, including the final, six as an assistant referee and four as the fourth official, all in the space of five days.
Football Queensland’s Pursuit of Excellence refereeing program prepares up-and-coming match officials for competitions of this nature and Elton was quick to praise it in his development.
“It’s helped tremendously,” he said.
“Always having something to strive for, not just picking a target and hitting it, you may be good, but to be excellent you’re always chasing that”.
While this award is a big step forward in his development Elton isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“I’d love to make a career out of this, but as we say at Football Brisbane, it’s not about the end goal, it’s about the journey.”
Words: Samuel Johnson
Image: Northern NSW Football