Name: Luke Mackney
What initially prompted you to become a football referee?
What initially prompted me to become a referee was because I was playing football and my best mate, who was in my team, started refereeing so I decided to do the course the next year and referee with him.
Do you play football? Who do you play for?
I stopped playing competitively when I was 16. I currently play 5-a-side in Summer.
If you play football, how has becoming a referee changed the way you approach the game as a player?
5-a-side is fairly social, but this is more of a consideration for me when playing other sports now. I appreciate that referees will not see everything or get every decision correct and I can generally accept a referee’s reasoning, even if I disagree with the decision.
What issues do you face in retaining referees?
Match officials are subjected to a lot of demands and pressure in their role and this becomes too much for some. Like players, junior match officials often start keen but often they move away after school for Uni/work or they simply start to lack interest in participating anymore. Those who lose interest have generally reached a point where they no longer enjoy it, mostly because of abuse and continual negativity from players, coaches and spectators.
How has technology changed the way refereeing is administered?
The administration of referees is primarily via technology based means now (email, mobile, website, text message etc.), whereas up to 10 years ago there was a greater need to meet in groups to discuss matters and provide coaching etc. to referees. Technology assists in the administration of referees and has allowed more immediate and direct communication in most instances, but this creates other challenges.
What strategies can be implemented to attract more referees?
The Zone and State Federation certainly play a role in implementing strategies, but players and clubs also need to become part of the solution. There are some clubs within our Zone (Football Far North Coast) that offer to pay for their players/coaches to complete a referee course and become a referee, because they know ultimately it will assist the club.
What have you learnt as a referee that you’ve been able to apply in real life? E.g. personal life, school, relationships.
What I have learnt as a referee is that I understand the importance of good communication and try to apply my people management skills in a positive way.
During your time refereeing, how have you seen the game change?
The game has become more skill based and less physical than it once was (that’s not to say it isn’t at all physical now). Teams/players seem less likely to ‘get on with it’ now when they disagree with referee decisions, which unfortunately takes away from the action on the field.
What is it about football and that you love?
What I love about football is that it is a socially inclusive sport. Even if you know nothing technically about the game, it is not difficult to pick it up at some level.
What do you most enjoy about refereeing?
I enjoy the challenge and the comradery with refereeing. There are three teams out there, the two teams playing and the referees.
Have you ever experienced negativity as a referee? How did you overcome it?
Yes, absolutely. I’m able to recognise that generally the problem someone has isn’t directed at you as a person, but rather one single decision that may or may not be correct. If on reflection the decision I made was wrong, then I learn from it so I get it correct next time, but I try not to take things too personally.
If there was one piece of advice you could pass down to new referees or people thinking about becoming referees – what would it be?
Have confidence in your decisions. In order to do this, you need to make sure you know the laws and do the correct things on the field, but once you’ve done that then back yourself! Also, don’t be afraid to admit to mistakes (because we all make them – referees AND players) and most importantly… learn from your mistakes!
Is there anything about refereeing you don’t like? Why?
Unreasonable and continual negativity from players, coaches and spectators. You never expect everyone to agree with all of your decisions and that’s fine (referee’s even make mistakes), but constant comments and abuse can be draining and take away from the enjoyment that sport should be about.
Would you encourage your friends to become referees?
Absolutely. If they show an interest then I would encourage anyone to at least try it.
Do you have a mentor? If yes, who? What is the most important thing they’ve taught you?
As I came through the ranks of refereeing my mentors were mostly local referees who had been successful locally and nationally. Probably the most important thing they taught me was the importance of respect in refereeing. If you give respect, you’ll generally get respect.
Outside of football and refereeing, what are your other extracurricular activities?
I love sport and just enjoy watching sport during the winter and then I play social sports during the Summer.
Do you follow A-League? If so, which team/s?
Yes, I follow the A-League, but I don’t support a particular team (even though Yoshi told me I had to!).
About Newcastle Permanent Referee Recognition Week
Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) and Community Football Partner, Newcastle Permanent Building Society (NPBS), have extended the annual Referee Recognition Weekend to a week this year to celebrate the region’s Referees!
The recognition of referees is integral to the Newcastle Permanent Community Football partnership with the Community Referee of the Month Award celebrated monthly throughout the 2017 Season.
Newcastle Permanent Referee Recognition Week now gives the football community the chance to show our appreciation to our referees and match officials and show they are valued members of the football family who are respected by players, coaches and supporters alike.
Referee Recognition Week will commence from today, Monday 24th July to Sunday 30th July 2017. Throughout the week, NNSWF and NPBS will share stories of Referees in the region and share their journeys and experiences throughout their time refereeing.
On match days, clubs are encouraged to thank each of the referees and show their appreciation of their hard work that makes our game so enjoyable and safe.