Brad Carlin has enjoyed a lifetime as a referee.
Carlin has given 44 years of service to the Northern NSW Football community as a match official. Now, as one of the most respected voices in refereeing in the region, Carlin works as NNSWF’s Senior Officer – Match Official Administration and Development.
Northern NSW Football is celebrating Newcastle Permanent Referee Recognition Week from July 20 to 26, thanking the wonderful match officials who make playing football across northern NSW possible.
Carlin and his team of Riley Kirkaldy, Jake Southward and Jack Fisher are responsible for Northern NSW Football match officials.
Carlin’s experience is undeniable. He started refereeing with Macquarie Football Referees Association in 1977 and has officiated every season since. These days, Carlin officiates on the NNSWF Premier Competitions and Zone Football League Competitions while making the occasional appearance on community football matches in the Macquarie Football zone.
“I have always loved the game but I was, and still am, a very ordinary player,” Carlin said.
“Taking up the whistle appealed to me because I thought I could achieve more as a match official than I ever could as a player. My lack of skills and goals as a player would probably have seen me give the game away in my teens. I took up refereeing and I have never looked back.
“Football has given me far more than what I have been able to give the sport in return. I love how refereeing has helped me to meet so many great people over the years and make so many friends and acquaintances. Refereeing has made me a more confident and resilient person and has changed me from being a quiet, shy teenager into someone who never now shuts up on the field.”
Carlin wants to continue refereeing as long as he keeps enjoying what he does and feels his performances do not slip.
But for some time now his primary goal has been to mentor and work with the many developing young referees throughout northern NSW. Given his experience in the game, Carlin is well aware of the challenges young referees face.
“When you have officiated for a long time and progressed through the ranks, you come across your share of quite difficult matches to control,” Carlin said.
“Refereeing can occasionally be a challenge if teams do not play football. However, it is the difficult matches from which match officials should learn the most. You need to concentrate hard, employ people skills to manage players and situations and earn respect by showing respect.
“I want to support, encourage and coach [young, developing referees] so that through a combination of their hard work and talent, they can make it to the top as match officials.”
His years of fond memories have given Carlin a unique perspective on officiating and the positive influences refereeing can have on the lives of those who pick up a whistle or a flag.
“There are so many positives to officiating. Maintaining or improving your fitness, developing your knowledge and skills, giving something back to the game, earning money, meeting new friends, opportunities to travel and the chance to advance along the development pathway to elite football are all great reasons for anyone to take up officiating,” Carlin said.
“Refereeing is really enjoyable and most of the time it is not difficult if you give it 100 per cent effort and show respect.
“I’ve had so many great memories refereeing. The friends, acquaintances, the respect you earn, the knowledge that I have had the best view in the house, watching some fantastic players in action and knowing that I have given my best in every match to try and make it more enjoyable for everyone.
“I have had the pleasure of working with many outstanding referees over the years. I have learnt so much from watching them in action and listening to their advice. Collectively, they have made me the referee that I am.”