Football Queensland’s September edition of Behind the Whistle features Sunshine Coast match official Connor Evans, who discusses his journey as a referee and how officiating at tournaments has shaped his confidence both on and off the pitch.
The 18-year-old first began officiating at 13-years-old to earn some pocket money while gaining a better understanding of the Laws of the Game.
After five years behind the whistle, Evans has acquired invaluable knowledge from his experience refereeing tournaments across the state.
“At this year’s FQ Community Cup, the referee cohort generally consisted of younger and less experienced referees than myself, so it was important that I learnt to be a leader, show support and be a good role model, on and off the field, for the younger referees,” Evans said.
“From a refereeing perspective, there was a variety of amazing and very experienced qualified coaches who gave me feedback and helped me with my positioning and decision making along with many other things”.
Evans spends most of his time refereeing for Football Queensland Sunshine Coast in the Premier Men and Premier Reserve Men divisions, while taking opportunities to referee NPL Queensland and FQPL competitions whenever he can.
“At local competitions you generally referee with people you know, which is why it’s good to get experience at tournaments where you can adapt to different refereeing styles,” he said.
“There are also teams from across the state who participate in tournaments and have different playing styles, which may not be on display in local competitions.
“So attending these tournaments is a good way to learn how to adapt to change and different playing styles.”
The Sunshine Coast local has spent years building his confidence as a match official.
“Over the course of the three tournaments I have participated in this year, my confidence as a referee has grown a significant amount,” he said.
“You have the chance to meet so many great people and great referees who are all really supportive and encouraging, which is always a huge confidence booster.”
When asked what the biggest challenge has been as a referee at tournaments, Evans noted that it’s hard work officiating two, three and sometimes four games a day.
“I personally found this the most challenging aspect as you get tired and fatigued quite quickly,” he said.
“However, the FQ Referee Department and coaches do a great job in giving us the chance to do some rehabilitation each day, which is super valuable and is what keeps us performing at our best.
“The coaches always try and promote the importance of getting good sleep, stretching, foam rolling and recovering properly as it is probably the most important part of the day.”
The enthusiastic match official also noted the positive experiences young referees will gain if they follow in his footsteps.
“I would most definitely recommend attending these tournaments to young, up and coming referees,” he said.
“It is a great way to get quality coaching, improve yourself as a referee and as a person, but also make friendships that you can cherish for years to come.”
Reflecting on his aspirations for the future of his refereeing career, Evans makes it clear this is only the beginning of a long road for him.
“My short-term goal is to be selected in the FQ Referee Academy and progress onto senior FQPL and NPL competitions before attending the National Youth Football Championships by the end of the 2022 season,” he said.
“The end goal is to get my FIFA badge and attend a World Cup.”
Words: Charlotte Monteath