From mentoring young match officials to refereeing a game featuring an English Premier League powerhouse, Queenslander Alex King’s refereeing career has taken him around Australia in recent weeks.
Following his recent trip to Cairns as a referee coach at the Football Queensland (FQ) Community Cup, King returned to the centre of the pitch on Saturday night to referee Manchester United’s friendly match against Perth Glory.
Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, the Queenslander first picked up the whistle as a way to make some pocket money. Now years later King is at the top of his game, regularly refereeing in the Hyundai A-League.
Taking the time to help develop the next wave of referees, King was in attendance at this year’s FQ Community Cup in Cairns, acting as a mentor to the young match officials from across the state who participated in the tournament.
King said tournaments like the FQ Community Cup were valuable in helping to develop young referees.
“The FQ Community Cup is a great learning curve for young referees. The continuous feedback each referee was receiving day in and day out was so valuable to their development,” King said.
“I used to enjoy when I was in their position years ago when the likes of Jarred Gillett or Chris Beath would come to these sorts of tournaments.
“It motivated me to be like them and achieve the heights that they had. Hopefully I have done the same.”
Having experienced first-hand the support that established referees can provide when he was young and coming through the referee pathway, King said he enjoyed doing the same at this year’s tournament.
“I enjoyed just giving back my knowledge and experience to the young referees,” King said.
“With myself still being an active referee, I feel that I can relate to a lot of the things that these young match officials are trying to deal with in their refereeing.”
Following an injury to a young referee from Wide Bay at the tournament in Cairns, King and fellow Hyundai A-League match official Anton Shchetinin offered to referee a number of NPL Queensland matches for free to cover the cost of a flight home for another young match official who would otherwise have been forced to travel 20 hours alone by train.
Just a week later, King officiated in the friendly match between English Premier League icons Manchester United and Perth Glory.
Prior to the game, King spoke of his excitement at officiating the highly-anticipated match.
“I’m just looking forward to being able to run around for 90 minutes with some of the biggest names in world football,” King said.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to add to the spectacle of this match by allowing it to flow, and have some entertaining football for those at home and at the stadium to watch.”
Manchester United went on to defeat Hyundai A-League side Perth Glory 2-0 in their friendly match.
Words: Vivien Topalovic
Image: Tony Ashby/AFP/Getty Images