Football NSW Referees Branch Launched

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Football NSW have officially launched the ‘Football NSW Referees Branch’ which has been formed by the amalgamation of the NSW State League Branch and Football NSW.

For over 60 years, the NSW State League Referee Branch has serviced and supported the game in NSW, providing top level officials to FNSW’s crowning Competitions. The Branch has played a key role in the development of many A Leagues, AFC and FIFA Panel officials, propelling NSW to be one of the most admired development grounds for match officials in Australia.

The Branch has been loyally supported and serviced by a team of volunteers, which has seen its numbers grow considerably over the past decade as Competitions have expanded, and their services extended due to the lengthening of Competition seasons.

Throughout 2023, the NSW State League Branch and Football NSW met regularly to develop a shared vision for the talented referee development pathway. The decision to amalgamate was shared with the current membership and has since opened for registration ahead of the 2024 season.

The newly formed ‘Football NSW Referees Branch’ will encompass all match officials on Football NSW Competition fixtures, including Senior officials that service NPL & Leagues competitions, Junior officials as part of the Football NSW Academy & Referee Development Panel, along with Technical members such as coaches, mentors and assessors.

The new Branch will provide a seamless pathway from the Talented Youth Referee development programs to first grade competitions allowing for more effective and efficient development of match officials. The newly formed Branch will be supported by a ‘Referee Technical Unit’ comprised of a Referee Technical Director and a Head coach for each panel, which reflect the Competitions. The increased investment and support for the education and development of match officials is aimed at placing Football NSW back on top of the tree as the most modern, effective and represented Federation for match officials in Australia.

Members will also benefit from improved membership support and services to improve their experience as a referee and with their Branch. As the football world has professionalised around them, many Referee Branches continue to be administered by volunteers working into the early morning to ensure prompt payment, support and welfare checks are carried out to their members. Football NSW will relieve this pressure by internalising resources whilst still maintaining the core culture of the State League Branch and their rich history.

Football NSW’s Head of Football Development, Edward Ferguson is confident of the new approach;

“The modern sports administration world is evolving at a fast pace and this change ensures we give the match officials and their branch the support, investment and focus that it requires. Match officials are vital to our game and we must ensure the environment on and off the park allows them to perform to the expectations of their cohort and the wider football community,” commented Ferguson.

“We want to see Football NSW regarded as the best development Federation for officials. We have a strong representation currently on the A Leagues panel and hope to ensure this continues over future years with enhancements to our Talented Youth Referee programs and vital investment provided to the coaches within our Referee Technical Unit.

“We also see benefit for the wider referee community with this change. It will allow us to align the pathway, align the education and ensure consistency from our top panels, right the way through to the support we provide our Community branches. We cannot forget that it is within our community branches that all FIFA match officials manage their first game and develop a love for football.”

The new Branch formation is one of many initiatives implemented and under consideration as part of a wider Referee Development Plan that is due to be publicly released in 2024.

Community Referees that wish to challenge themselves within the Football NSW Referee Branch and on Football NSW Competition fixtures are encouraged to speak with their Community Branch for recommendation to Football NSW.