He is known by his peers as being a big stickler for rules, so it comes as no surprise that Long Bay College student Ben Matthews tried his hand at refereeing. He hasn’t looked back.
The 17-year old is a keen footballer and juggling both school and club football commitments meant time wasn’t on his side to take up the whistle earlier.
“I had been wanting to be a qualified referee for a long time but I wouldn’t have been able to juggle refereeing and playing for both club and school so I just never looked into it,” Matthews explained.
“Once I left my club Forrest Hill Milford at the end of 2016 and just focused on school football, it opened up some time to referee.
“My classmates know I hate it when people break rules so I always try to help keep people inside them and this just flowed into being a referee.”
NFF's Referee Development Officer Chris Casey said thats Ben's positive learning attitude was great to see and very encourging “Ben displayed a maturity beyond his years and worked very hard to continually improve whenever he took to the field. He was thirsty for knowledge and really took on the coaching points offered”
After his first year as a football referee in 2017, the promising youngster was named Student Official of the Year at the 27th Annual College Sport Auckland Young Sportsperson of the Year Awards for his services to the beautiful game and touch rugby.
“I was honestly so surprised when my name was read out as the winner; A lot of people did some work behind the scenes without me knowing what was happening and it wasn’t until my mum told me on my birthday that I was nominated for it so it was pretty special.
“One of the other finalists was one of my friends from touch and I knew what he was like so I didn’t think I had a good chance, but here we are…”
His achievements didn’t stop there however with his successful inaugural season earning him selection as a match official for the National Women’s League and a spot on the Lotto Northern Regional Football League panel for 2018.
“It came as a huge surprise when I got an email from Ken [Wallace] saying I had been appointed to National Women’s League games. Another highlight was being put on the NRFL panel for this season. Both of them have been huge surprises coming off a decent 2017 so I’m really glad I have these opportunities,” Matthews added.
Keen to take up the whistle and find out what opportunities being a match official might bring you? Contact Northern Football Federation Referee Development Officer Chris Casey.