At just 18 years-of-age, Verity Norris has recently hit some highs in her referee career, having recently officiated at TAFE NSW Women’s State Cup, and being featured during Northern NSW Football’s (NNSWF) Women in Football Round.
She has certainly proven her excellent skills and commitment in rising through the NNSWF officiating ranks all while having never played at a competitive level.
Introduced to the game by her father, Verity, along with her sister Maxine, began to form a passion to be referees at a young age and the trio often officiated games together.
Verity says it was the bond it created amongst her family which was her initial motivation.
“Seven years ago, all my sister and I used to do each weekend was watch our dad referee,” Verity confessed.
“It wasn’t until one day when dad was two linesmen short, that he handed Maxine and I a flag each and got us to run the line for him… It felt great to be involved in the game and make decisions.
“We had a purpose out there on that field and having some form of influence at the time made us feel important.
“From that moment onwards, our dad conditioned us and taught us all about the game. It was only the start of the season so Maxine and I registered alongside our dad and we became the Norris trio.
“It was a great way to bring us closer together. Spending the day running around in the sun, talking with the players before and after the game and getting paid to do what we loved most.
The social element of football has become a large part of the game that she loves and admits it’s what keeps her coming back each year.
“I love the social side of football. The community coming together is what makes the game for me,” Verity said.
“I love knowing at the end of each week, I’ll see a friendly face on match day. Whether it’s a player, official, assessor, referee or volunteer.
“Although some games are more challenging than others and some calls are tight to make, I have fun while I’m refereeing.
“I get a high level of respect from players and officials, even when I’m not always right, I appreciate how patient and supportive they are of me.
“Everyone makes me feel accepted and that’s what keeps me around the game.”
Unlike some other referees, Verity has never played football or had a real desire to, however she believes this grants her a diverse perspective on the game.
“I don’t play football but I find having not played competitively, I’m able to see the game from a different point of view,” Verity admitted.
“I like the fact that I’m unique to other referees. I still haven’t met a referee that hasn’t played other than my sister.”
Having also officiated National Premier Leagues (NPL) First Grade matches, and even a Westfield W-League trial between Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets, Verity is a keen supporter of women, and anybody, taking on the vesting challenge of becoming referees.
“I’d encourage anyone to referee, females even more so because it’s a male dominated sport and it’d be great to see more women in football,” Verity said.
“It’s empowering and a great way to socialise and get active.
“Refereeing is actually a great hobby. If you love football and being social, there’s a lot more positivity than negativity in the game. It’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be.
“There’s no need to fear refereeing, you don’t get thrown straight into the deep end. The head officials take into consideration which games go to the different people based on strengths, and with the amazing coaching that’s available and mentoring we receive, we’re well prepared,” Verity concluded.
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