Budding referee Jess Pabian officiates her first game at Bathurst’s Proctor Park Challenge


The Proctor Park Challenge in Bathurst saw nearly 50 of NSW’s most promising young referees, who have recently been awarded the New Referee Recipient scholarship as part of the Football Legacy Program’s Women in Football Scholarship Program, officiate games for the very first time.

Budding referee, Jess Pabian was one of the New Referee Scholarship recipients representing Football NSW at Bathurst to referee her first few football games after completing her practical training at Valentine Sports Park. 

“I loved the experience at Proctor Park Challenge! As a new referee, it was great to have support on and off the field. We had other referees watching us and supporting us as we refereed our first ever games.

“It was a positive, exciting and fantastic weekend to do all things refereeing. Having the instant feedback from other referees really helped with my confidence when making decisions on the field”.


Pabian is no stranger to football, having been in the game for nearly two decades.

“For years, I used to sit on the sidelines and watch my older brother play football. I always loved supporting him and decided to join in the hopes of becoming an equally great player.” Pabian says.

“I’ve loved playing football for the better part of 15 years now and throughout the years have learnt to play all positions”

On why she decided to take up officiating games, Pabian expresses her goal of becoming an agent of change for female football. “I decided to apply for the New Referee Scholarship, not only because I wanted to become more involved with the game I love, but to also have the opportunity to referee female football matches.

“I’ve learnt a lot from the wonderful women I’ve encountered from playing football, from my teammates to the female referees and coaches – they’re my biggest inspirations. I decided it was time for me to start giving back to the game and become a pillar of support for younger girls and pass on my football skills to the next generation,” says Pabian.


The Football Legacy Program believes female leadership is vital in the diversity and player retention of female footballers.

In launching the Women in Football Scholarship program, the Football Legacy Program seeks to upskill girls and women in varying roles and enhance their voices within the football community.

On being awarded the scholarship, Pabian says, “The New Referee Scholarship has been great at teaching me further rules and details about the game of football; from learning how to signal with flags, refereeing tips, and connecting with the other amazing and inspiring women who are also completing the course. I was able to carry on these newfound skills and knowledge when I officiated  games at the Proctor Park Challenge. I would 100% recommend this event and scholarship to anyone who is thinking about becoming a referee or anyone who loves the game. It gave great perspective to me as a player and I can’t wait to go back to my local area and begin refereeing my favourite sport for others.”

NSW Football Legacy Program

The Women in Football Scholarship Program was launched with the objective of growing female participation at all levels of the game. Working to upskill female officials, coaches and club administrators – participants have access to a range of education and development opportunities. 

The Women in Football Scholarships are part of the NSW Football Legacy Program – a $10 million investment from the NSW Government. The program seeks to support female football through new community facilities, participation initiatives, development programs as well as tourism and international engagement. 

This web story is by the NSW Government under the NSW Football Legacy Program.