Have you ever thought of taking up the whistle and becoming a referee?

By becoming a referee you can contribute to the success and enjoyment of the beautiful game!

Why become 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.

Football and Futsal in Aotearoa/NZ does not just provide a pathway for players and coaches, it also has it's own pathway in Aotearoa/NZ, and offers a range of opportunities.

Who can be a referee?

Refereeing is for all ages and for both males and females. No matter what your age or level there will be opportunities to be involved in the game as a referee.

Encouraging more Female and Youth referees into the game is a focus for us,  and we do offer targeted training for those groups as well as our courses for players, ex-players and parents who make up a significant portion of our Referee Community.

Referees News


Each week hundreds of volunteers and coaches grab a whistle to coordinate and lead children's games to be more enjoyable and safer.

Getting started 

To get started as a referee, you will start with one of our Introduction courses. These are online through NZF Learn, free, and available for you to complete at your own pace.  

  • Game Day Leader Award - For volunteers leading game day for 4-9 year olds

  • Mini Football/Futsal Refereeing Award - For volunteers leading the smaller sided game of 9-13 year olds

  • Youth & Community Football/Futsal Referee Award - For those who will referee the more competitive 9v9 and 11v11 Football or 5v5 Futsal 

We also have In-Person Referee Youth Academies available for any teenagers interested in refereeing.


Following the introduction levels there is the opportunity to get involved in the ‘official’ refereeing pathway.

For referees in New Zealand, there is a clear pathway to help you achieve your goals while contributing to the success and enjoyment of players, coaches and fans along the way.

The pathway begins with a Level 1 Referees Award which will equip you with the basic requirements to referee youth and local senior football or futsal.  This course is for those who wish to officially begin their refereeing journey within the Federation and be available for appointment to local games. 

The Level 2 qualification is a field based assessment that will open the door to top federation and inter-federation leagues and in some cases national competitions, like the National Youth League.

Level 3 is a more advanced accreditation course for those who wish to continue their development and referee at higher levels of the game. This level includes a practical assessment. The door is now open to top federation and inter-federation leagues and, in some cases, national competitions like the Youth League!

For Level 4 there is a more extensive field-based assessment on two games at the highest federation level. You can now step up to the Premiership and National Women’s League!

A world of opportunities could be unlocked for exceptional referees who achieve their FIFA badge and assigned to international fixtures throughout Oceania!  After that the world awaits, with FIFA tournaments including FIFA World Cups and Olympic games on offer for the top few officials.

Alongside the referee pathway, a similar road exists for Referee Coaches/Assessors who can impart their knowledge and experience to those at lower levels, either once they themselves have finished active refereeing or as they progress along the pathway.


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.