Group 4 Referee’s Association has made some startling and worrying admissions about their refereeing numbers ahead of the season kick-off.
Association president Tony Hardy and fellow referees Bev Adams and Luke Sheather met with Group 4 chairman Ray McCoy and public officer Peter Blom last week over a refereeing shortfall and Hardy was straight to the point.
“So far we have 35 members,” he said of an Association which is being sponsored by Winanga-Li and Wests in 2018.
“Of those 35 only 13 are capable of officiating a senior league game.”
Of those registered there is also a smaller number who have yet to commit to refereeing in 2018, he also added.
”We’ve lost 13 referees from last year,” he told the G4 executive members.
Hardy said, “we are always on the lookout for any ex-players, females and of course any person who are over the age of 13 who has interest in the game and wants to stay involved”.
“It’s the best seat in the house,” he continued.
“We have been in talks in Group 2 and they will come over and help out where they can but Group 19 and 21 are in the same boat as we are.”
He said abuse of referees is not a major reason for the loss of referees, who have either moved away or are restricted by work.
Refereeing can be rewarding, he said, not just with the financial side where first grade referees received $150 per game and linesmen $75, and hopes they can replenish their numbers with refereeing clinics.
However he said takes at least three years to “get a new referee to first grade standard”.
The G4 executive and referees discussed various ways of structuring and staggering games to try and cater for the lack of refereeing numbers as the Group heads into this weekend’s season start.
Of prime consideration was the welfare and benefit of the clubs, who need set dates and times to plan ahead for big home matches.
“We don’t want to tell the clubs when they can play,” Hardy said.
“We want to help them play when they want to so they can make the most of those home games.”
G4 chairman Ray McCoy said staggering starting times for certain games on Saturdays and Sunday was one way of coping with the problem.
“We’ll be talking with the clubs to see if they can help or suggest changes,” McCoy said.
“We want to work in with them as well.”
He said more Friday night games could be one way with lights at Jack Woolaston Oval, Gunnedah and Wests offering chances to stagger games over the opening weekend.
The Group will hold a “Rules Night” at Tamworth Services Club on Thursday night where all coaches of all teams will be invited to talk to Hardy and the G4 referees about playing rules for the new season.
The opening round of the new look Group 4 season begins Saturday with Bendemeer hosting reigning premiers North Tamworth (Bendemeer Oval), Kootingal travelling to Boggabri (Jubilee Oval, Boggabri), Werris Creek are at home to Dungowan (David Taylor Park) and South West Robins play Barraba in second grade and ladies league Tag. On Sunday Gunnedah host Narrabri (Kitchener Park, Gunnedah) in four grades, first, second, Under 18s and Ladies League Tag.
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