John Parker is a man who wears many hats in our game – particularly in the world of refereeing.
The sprightly 72-year old has been at the forefront of refereeing development since he first took up the whistle in 1987.
John has been an integral member of the St George Football Referees Association which was formed in 1974 but his reach goes to all levels of the game at Association, State and National level.
The SGFRA is small in numbers but leads the way in the development of coaches in NSW and beyond. Each week, up to 50 referees attend John’s coaching sessions at Carss Park FC, an iconic club from the Football St George family.
In fact, John started playing for the club back in 1956.
“This club is very close to my heart,” Parker stated.
“I started playing here as an 8yo junior and then started coaching when my playing journey ended. I then decided it was time to give back to the game in a different way in 1987.”
So much so that John has the following roles now;
- Football Australia NSW referee fitness instructor and A-League referee game day assessor
- NSW State Referee coach and match day assessor
- NSW State Referee Brach technical sub committee
- St George Football Referees Association Coach
Last night Heartbeat of Football, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Response for Life delivered the first ever heart health testing and CPR/defibrillator training night at Carss Park FC who kindly donated the night along with Julia Zuza (Response for Life).
This all came about on the back on fundraising for HOF with the staging on the inaugural Darryl Hancock Golf Classic which was attended by ex-Socceroos Graham Arnold, Robbie Slater and George Harris.
Darryl was a local club legend who we lost to a heart attack.
“It’s vitally important referees understand what they might need to do in the event of a cardiac arrest or heart attack on the pitch.
“As far as injuries go referees are not suppose to engage but in the event of a life threatening incident all bets are off and they could the first person to assist before paramedics arrive.”
It was eye opening to see the referees react last night to the generic testing but also to the critical defib/CPR training.
It was a first of sorts. On any given night John has all levels of refs in attendance.
Last night A-League officials Ben Abraham and Tim Danaskos as well as Football NSW referee Yosemite Guilmeer were amongst the participants.
One shouldn’t be surprised to see the level of refs John has helped nurture.
It gives him great pride, in particular, the many local referees that have transitioned from this Association to the elite levels of the game like Matthew Breeze, Tim Danaskos, Scott Edeling, Murray Wilson, Anastasia Filacouridis to name a few.
“We do tend to lose a lot of referees,” Parker said
“It’s a natural attrition but grassroots clubs need to engage because there is a pathway there. We are short of senior referees but we must change the culture,” Parker concluded.
I first met John Parker when I was playing Premier League football at Sans Souci FC in 1995.
His commitment in this crucial part of the game has always impressed me.
I just wish we had more committed people like John given how important the people with the whistle and those assisting them are to our great game.
By Andy Paschalidis – Heartbeat of Football Founder