High-quality match experience and elite learning opportunities have gone hand in hand for the young Football Queensland (FQ) Referee Academy officials who have assembled in South East Queensland this week.
Around 30 talented members from the inaugural intake have come from across the state to spend several days working with highly credentialed coaches and officiating at the TSP Boys and Girls State Carnivals taking place in Brisbane and Ipswich.
FQ launched the Referee Academy in July to strengthen pathways and retention rates while fast-tracking the development of promising regional and metropolitan referees.
Their mentors include FQ Referee Academy coaches and FIFA Panel members Renae Coghill, Lara Lee and Alex King, who praised the program and its potential.
“There’s never been a Referee Academy in Queensland and I think the kids are really lucky,” said King, a member of Football Federation Australia’s full-time Professional Referees Panel.
“We’ve got a fitness person here who assesses them on their fitness and some experienced referees who are able to pass on their experience and knowledge and help them in their referee journeys.
“It’s a good thing. It’s awesome that Football Queensland have put this initiative together. It’s new to some of us to mentor these young people but our goal is to see the best referees.
“We want Queensland to produce the best referees at national and international level – that’s all we want to do, that’s what we want to achieve.
“Hopefully we can get a couple of them out of the academy.”
Challenges connected to COVID-19 have forced the FQ Referee Academy coaches to get creative in their educational efforts to date, with online meetings, Laws of the Game quizzes and personality profiles among the development initiatives.
However, with the two TSP Carnivals providing a full week of on-field action, King said it was a great opportunity to bring the group together in one location.
“It’s been really good to get them here and for us to be able to share some experiences with them,” he said.
“We got most of them in on Saturday and we were able to do a bit of a training day, do some Laws of the Game stuff around tackles and offsides. Then we were able to take them out onto the field and do some practical refereeing drills.
“We were actually able to do some offside drills where we filmed them and gave them instant feedback on their offside decisions. A lot of them have never done that before. It was good to give them a taste of that and what’s required when you go up the food chain.
“We’ve had referees from Queensland who have gone and achieved great things like Peter Green, Adam Kersey and Casey Reibelt come down and share some of their experiences and tips.
“They’re around good people who give good advice.”
After starting the week at the TSP Boys State Carnival, the FQ Referee Academy officials will be involved at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex on Thursday as the TSP Girls State Carnival concludes.