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Young Referees on a Pathway to The Top

Southland Football is in the fortunate position of having several youthful referees taking advantage of the pathways the sport offers.

Will Dymond is the oldest of a talented trio. Dymond turned twenty earlier this year. Hopes of training to join the police this year were dashed by the Covid outbreak this year and he is currently working as an Apprentice Mechanic but the police goal remains.

Dymond was born and raised into football and started playing for the Old Boys Club when he was seven. Three to four years ago he transitioned into refereeing. “My goal has always been to go to a World Cup and realistically that wasn’t going to happen as a player so I decided to give refereeing a go. Contacts in the police said to me that if I wanted to have a police career refereeing would help develop similar qualities that are required for the job.”

Dymond hardly plays now, “only the odd social outing,” but he has worked hard to make his way up the refereeing pathway. “You definitely get out what you put in and you need to surround yourself with the right people plus I was raised in a good way,” he says. “The new Football South Referee Development Officer, Lindsey Robinson definitely helps. She is good and develops good referees, not just for the higher levels.”

While he has only been a referee a relatively short time the ultimate goal of a World Cup still remains. “However National League would be right up there and an Oceania International would be great,” says Dymond.

Dymond is well on the way. In 2018 he was an Assistant Referee in the Women’s National League and the Youth National League and in 2019 he was an Assistant Ref in the Men’s National League and a referee in the Youth National League. This year he has featured as a referee in the federation’s top league as a referee in the Southern Premier League requiring travel to Dunedin, Queenstown and Wanaka most weekends. 

Samantha (Sam) Keen is another young talented referee. Sam is about to turn eighteen and is in her final year at James Hargest College. She played at school and for her club, Thistle, but she decided there must be more to this for me. “‘I am good at solving problems and stats and one of my school coaches suggested refereeing.” Already Sam has run the line quite a few times in Southern Premier League games and she says “the higher the level the more they only worry about your decision not your gender or the fact you are young.” Sam has an ultimate goal of being on the line at a Women’s World Cup and attaining her FIFA Badge.

She too has big career aspirations and hopes to join the Navy. “Refereeing helps with gaining confidence and is a leadership boost. It is also a leg up with fitness, all good for the Navy.”

Zac Gargiulo is the youngest of the trio, not turning sixteen until December. He is in Year 11 at Aurora College and started playing football at the age of six. He still plays at school and is a member of the Queens Park Club and has been part of the Southland United Academy set-up.

Late last year he decided to take some club-based courses on refereeing and this year he decided to take up refereeing as a pathway. He will sit his Level 2 qualification soon and has refereed up to Division 1.

Gargiulo says he, “would like to get his FIFA Badge and would like to referee at Southern Premier League or A League Level.”

Referees Committee President Craig Smith says, “it is a nice change to have young referees coming forward. Our average age has dropped dramatically over the past couple of years. Will has come a long way in a short time and shows real promise. He has reached National League level doing the lines in just three years. Sam and Zac are at varying stages after a very short time with us. These young ones are on a nationally recognised development pathway. We would love to hear from people of all age groups, whether they are thinking of giving playing away, or just want to give something to the sport. The refereeing pathway can be a very rewarding alternative to playing and/or coaching.”

Anyone keen to take up the whistle would be welcome to contact the Football South Referee Development Manager, Lindsey Robinson, at [email protected] or on 022 372 7703.

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