In a special edition of Behind the Whistle, Football Queensland caught up with three sets of twins who are making a name for themselves on the pitch as budding referees.
From Gold Coast’s Maudsland to the city of Brisbane and regional Townsville, these dual forces give a unique insight into what it’s like to share the field with the closest teammate there is.
Page and Paula Malau-Aduli
The Townsville duo have caused illusion on the field as identical twins and referees with distinguishable passion for the game. The 17-year-old sisters decided to take on refereeing four years ago and neither one of them has looked back since.
“We used to be really shy and couldn’t handle confrontation very well, but refereeing has helped us a lot when making decisions and handling disagreements,” they said.
Often seen officiating together, the enthusiastic pair use their deep insights and unified connection to help each other grow as referees.
“We will always be honest with each other. If there is something I could improve on, then I can trust my sister to give it to me straight and encourage me to keep trying. I think that’s the best part about refereeing together,” Page said.
This desire to help each other in the throes of a challenging role perhaps inspired their selection for the inaugural Football Queensland Referee Academy panel in 2020.
“The training and guidance we have received through the panel has been the best part of refereeing so far, because not only do we meet referees from all over the state and make new friends, but the coaches are amazing,” Paula said.
“Where we want to be in 10 years, you’ve got people who are already there and they are telling us what their journey was like, and the challenges and strengths they have learned from it.”
When asked what the future holds, the pair confirmed they have aspirations to become a refereeing unit.
“We are both going where it takes us because we love to keep progressing and doing higher up games all over the state. But the most important part has been the experience along the way.”
Sean and Liam McParland
Two 22-year-old twin brothers from Brisbane have learnt to share the football pitch in a unique way after trying refereeing ten years ago.
“The culture at our club and within our family is very much about volunteering and giving back to the game in a way that is needed,” Liam said.
“It supports the team, it supports the clubs, and it supports the players. I wanted to be fully involved and it has been the perfect way to spend more time with my brother,” Sean agreed.
The twin brothers decided to take up refereeing to give back to the game they both love, which has since seen them learn and grow as individuals.
“I have learnt to deal with a variety of emotions that ultimately comes from passion and love for the game. You make mistakes and that’s okay because nobody achieves perfection and I have learnt to accept that,” Sean said.
“It has definitely helped me grow as an individual since you deal with a lot of emotions, not just from yourself but from everyone on and off the field. It’s about learning to manage these emotions and communicate with a variety of personalities,” Liam added.
They make the perfect pairing on the field, understanding each other with just a single look, “but not telepathy,” said Sean.
“You just look at the guy on the line who’s your brother and he gives you that nod letting you know you’ve got it. It’s a pretty good teammate to work with.”
“It’s a time for us to catch up on the field of our favourite game that’s close to both of our hearts,” Liam said.
“I know no matter what Liam has my back, and I have his,” Sean added.
Both agree they want to see a future where the line is broken between referees and players.
“I would love to break the stigma between referees and players on the field because we all share a common interest so let’s connect and bond over that,” Liam said.
Sean agreed and added, “ultimately if you have a good mindset, are kind to others and work hard then good things will come.”
Connor and Joseph Hannes
18-year-old twin brothers Connor and Joseph Hannes from Maudsland have formed a powerful on-field dynamic.
In their fifth year with the whistle, the pair told of their passion for the sport and how the experience has helped them grow as individuals.
“Originally, we both wanted to use refereeing as an opportunity to enhance our awareness and performance as soccer players. Eventually it developed into a passion that we have learnt a lot from,” they said.
“Perhaps the most notable of skills we have developed over the years includes discipline, people management and gaining new perspectives on the game overall. It’s definitely allowed us to build a better understanding as players as well.”
Not only has the opportunity taught them lifelong skills, but it has provided a sanctuary for the brothers to connect.
“We both enjoy refereeing with each other as it provides a point of difference and allows us to connect with players in a unique way,” they said.
“Our refereeing styles are very similar, so it leads to frequent questioning and comparison between each other. Whilst some competition is nice, it can become overwhelming after a tough game.”
Both agree they want to continue to develop in refereeing and see where it takes them.
“We want to pursue this career to its deepest potential, but ultimately playing the sport has been our lifelong dream,” the brothers said.
“The best advice we can give to other siblings in the game is to analyse and improve from each other. It is like having carbon copy of yourself to learn from.”
Words: Charlotte Monteath