Meeting new people, staying fit and remaining involved in the game he loves. That is what refereeing means to Rob Stavrevski.
Northern NSW Football is celebrating Newcastle Permanent Referee Recognition Week from Monday 19 July to Sunday 25 July, thanking the wonderful match officials who make playing football across northern NSW possible.
As well as being a referee for seven years, Stavrevski is also mobile lending manager at Newcastle Permanent’s Charlestown Square branch.
Stavrevski, who is also a life member of Kotara South Junior Football Club, was introduced to refereeing by Newcastle Football referee Jason McKendry.
From there, Stavrevski dove right in.
“I love the fitness side of it and also catching up with guys I used to play with in my youth who are still kicking a ball around,” Stavrevski said.
“I don’t play football anymore. The mind is there but unfortunate the body wouldn’t be able to cope.
“People should try refereeing as it is a fun way to keep fit and also an opportunity to meet new people and if you have always been involved in football such as at club level it’s a way of giving something back to the game.
“I was also very fortunate to be able to do refereeing with my two children James and Shae for a number of years which was a great way of having family time together.”
Stavrevski, 54, acknowledged refereeing had its challenges at times and said professional players and coaches needed to set a better example.
“All referees are human just like the players however when we make a mistake we seem to attract the abuse from players or spectators,” he said.
“When you see professional players or managers all over the world abuse referees, no matter what sport and nothing is done about it, it sends a message that if he can do this, well I can as well.
“Governing bodies and associations need to do more about this otherwise we will lose really good referees.”
Stavrevski wants to continue refereeing and help attract younger people to become match officials.
“Seeing young kids start refereeing, they are so timid and very quiet when they first start out and as the years go on they get better and better eventually going to a higher level,” he said.
“There were two referees at Newcastle when I first started, Connor Markovich and Samantha Newell, that were very quiet and shy. They wouldn’t say a word at any of our referee meetings but as time went on they started to come out of there shell and their refereeing got better and better.
“And now they are both at Northern NSW refereeing.”