Becoming a Referee

Refereeing is a great way to continue your enjoyment of the game after or even during your playing career. If you are passionate about football then refereeing offers a different challenge and gives you the best seat in the house. It’s also a great way to keep fit, utilise and develop your people skills and pursue a footballing path that allows for an individual training schedule.

You can maintain your current links within the game, forge new friendships and give back to the game in a direct and meaningful way. Refereeing can also open up travel opportunities both within New Zealand and to the rest of the world.

If you are interested in becoming a referee or wish to add to your already existing refereeing qualifications, please contact WaiBOP’s Referee Development Manager Mark Hester on  Mobile: 021 210 6587 or  Email:


Frequently asked questions

Who can become a referee?

Anyone who enjoys football can pick up the whistle. There are no age restrictions, although as with anything if you start young then you’ll have more time and opportunity to reach the top. You may take a course and qualify as a youth referee at 12, and there are plenty of opportunities to referee younger age groups and Small Whites football.

Equally though, it’s never too late to start and there are plenty of local referees still keeping fit and serving the game around local football fields well into their sixties.

What are the requirements?

To begin with you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness, good eyesight (despite the obvious jokes) and a good sense of humour.

As you develop, you’ll find it’s important to be able to handle players well, have  a feeling for the game, control the game, be consistent and make accurate decisions, all of which NZF referee education can help with.

What about female referees?

Women are welcome and while able to officiate in both men’s and women’s competitions, there are options to operate within the female side of the sport. For all referees, there are many opportunities to progress through the refereeing ranks to FIFA level and be involved in international matches and tournaments overseas.

Isn’t it difficult?

You’ve played the game and you’ve watched the game so it’s not a great step to make decisions about action within a match.  Is it fair? If it isn’t then blow your whistle. Is it nasty, dangerous or reckless? If it is then you blow your whistle

NZF’s referee education will support and grow your knowledge and ability to make the right decision more often.

How do I become a referee?

An introductory Club Based Referees Course (CBR), lasting a few hours, is aimed at parents, coaches, teachers and players and will teach you about the essential Laws of the Game.

The Level 1 Course is designed for those who want to become a referee and covers the basic Laws of the Game, referee movement and positioning, acting as an assistant referee, player management and identification of common fouls. It comprises 10 one-hour sessions.

Are there tests?

Yes. At the end of the course you will answer a multi-choice, written paper, which asks you to decide what you would do if you were the referee in a game.

Is there a career path?

From local parks to FIFA; council grounds to great stadiums. Local Waikato referee Peter O’Leary began refereeing in his 20’s and reached FIFA level and refereed international matches. Peter was one of the referees from around the globe that officiated at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

What about on-going training?

Referee development centres in Waikato and Bay of Plenty offer lots of support. In addition to regular coaching sessions where you are kept up-to-date with law changes and helped to develop your refereeing techniques, regular meetings and outside training sessions are held.


Contact our Referee Development Officer for more details:

Mark Hester Referee Development Manager
Mobile: 021 210 6587