TEENAGE Tamworth referee Nathan Paff has been recognised for his whistle-blowing talents.
The 17-year-old McCarthy Catholic College student gave up playing this year to concentrate on officiating and has been rewarded by being named the Northern Junior League referee of the year.
“I played for a while beforehand,” Paff said. “I saw other people reffing and I thought I’d have a go at it.”
That was five years ago and now he is one of the best in the north of the state.
He handled the recent NJL U18s men’s final between Port Macquarie and Lismore at Grafton and it was after that game that he was given the award.
“It’s a bonus,” he said.
“I played rep last year but stopped to be a ref this year.”
Paff is also gaining experience as a Waratah League ref.
That means he controls games between the best senior players in the north of the state, most of whom are bigger and older than he is.
“I did a bit last year,” he said.
“This year I’ve done quite a lot, but only the home games
“It’s very different.
“It’s more challenging than the under 18s.
“It can get pretty physical.”
He discovered that in last Saturday’s game between Tamworth and Coffs Harbour, which got a little bit heated at times.
But it’s all a learning curve that he hopes will help him reach even greater heights in the coming years.
“I’d like to get to a nationals in the next three years,” Paff said. “That’s the big thing I’m aiming for.”