Who0le of Football Plan


Become a Referee

New Zealand referee Michael Hester. Photo: Shane Wenzlick, PhototekRefereeing is a great way to continue your enjoyment of the game after or even during your playing career. If you are passionate about football then refereeing offers a different challenge and gives you the best seat in the house. Itís also a great way to keep fit, utilise and develop your people skills and pursue a footballing path that allows for a individual training schedule.

You can maintain your current links within the game, forge new friendships and give back to the game in a direct and meaningful way. Refereeing can also open up travel opportunities both within New Zealand and to the rest of the world.

If you are interested in becoming a referee or wish to add to your already existing refereeing qualifications, please make contact with the federation office nearest you (see the list below). For all enquiries at a national or international level, contact NZF Referee Development Officer Ken Wallace.

Frequently asked questions

Who can become a referee?
Anyone who enjoys football can pick up the whistle. There are no age restrictions, although as with anything if you start young then youíll have more time and opportunity to reach the top. You may take a course and qualify as a youth referee at 12, and there are plenty of opportunities to referee younger age groups and Small Whites football.

Equally though, itís never too late to start and there are plenty of local referees still keeping fit and serving the game around local football fields well into their sixties.

What are the requirements?
To begin with youíll need a reasonable level of fitness, good eyesight (despite the obvious jokes) and a good sense of humour.

As you develop, youíll find itís important to be able to handle players well, have  a feeling for the game, control the game, be consistent and make accurate decisions, all of which NZF referee education can help with.

What about female referees?
Women are welcome and while able to officiate in both menís and womenís competitions, there are options to operate within the female side of the sport. For all referees, there are many opportunities to progress through the refereeing ranks to FIFA level and be involved in international matches and tournaments overseas.

Isnít it difficult?
Youíve played the game and youíve watched the game so itís not a great step to make decisions about action within a match.  Is it fair? If it isnít then blow your whistle. Is it nasty, dangerous or reckless? If it is then you blow your whistle

NZFís referee education will support and grow your knowledge and ability to make the right decision more often.

How do I become a referee?
An introductory course, lasting a few hours, is aimed at parents, coaches, teachers and players and will teach you about the essential Laws of the Game.

The Level 1 Course is designed for those who want to become a referee and covers the basic Laws of the Game, referee movement and positioning, acting as an assistant referee, player management and identification of common fouls. It comprises 10 one-hour sessions

Are there tests?
Yes. At the end of the course you will answer a multi-choice, written paper, which asks you to decide what you would do if you were the referee in a game.

What will it cost me?
There is usually a small charge for the course and the course materials. Some referee centres Will provide you with a refereeing kit to get you started.

What happens after I qualify?
You will register as a referee and then be appointed to games near where you live on the days you make yourself available. A mentor or referee coach will often assist you in your first games and throughout your career.

Is there a career path?
From local parks to FIFA; council grounds to great stadiums. Carmen Jones, Michael Hester and Bruce Grimshaw began refereeing in their 30s and all reached FIFA level and refereed international matches. Hester has now refereed at the Confederations Cup and the Beijing Olympics and in games featuring some of the worldís great players.  Lynn Fox began because her sonís team needed a referee. Eight years later she was refereeing at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Paul Smith decided to concentrate on a career as an assistant referee in 1996, and six years later he was officiating at the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.

What about on-going training?
All referee centres offer lots of support. In addition to regular coaching sessions where you are kept up-to-date with law changes and helped to develop your refereeing techniques, regular meetings and outside training sessions are held.

Regional Enquiries

If you are interested in finding out how to become a referee or wish to add to your already existing refereeing qualifications, please contact the referee development officer in the region near you. (Listed from north to south)

Referee Development Officers:




Northern Football

Jamie Cross


Auckland Football

Paul Smith


Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Paul Higgins

paul.h@waibopfootball.co.nz / 022 184 4562

Central Football

David Lawrie

david@centralfootball.co.nz / 06 357 5349

Capital Football

Barry Tasker

bazzaref@xtra.co.nz / 027 657 7635

Mainland Football

Wayne Stapley


Football South

Wilson James


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