Tanya De Boer
Tanya De Boer

FNC referees go national

THREE soccer referees who learned their skills in the Far North Coast competition have been selected for various national competitions.

Tanya De Boer, the top local female referee until moving to Newcastle this season, will be involved in her second season of the W-League, the national competition for women.

Ben Haigh, who is from Alstonville but now lives on the Gold Coast, has been selected for the National Youth League after officiating in Brisbane for the past two seasons.

The region’s top referee is Luke Mackney, whose honours this year include being named FFA Referee of the Year, officiating at the National Schoolboys titles in Perth and recently being made a life member of the FNC Referees’ Association.

He has also been selected for national honours.

Reaching this level is an endorsement of the pathways local referees have in pursuing higher recognition and development.

Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney, in conjunction with the local referees’ association, is aims to attract at least 100 more referees for next season.

Mackney said almost 7000 registered players relied on about 100 referees (down from 140 last year).

The loss of many experienced referees has also increased pressures on officials, more criticism of the standards of refereeing and a requirement to promote younger, less experienced referees too quickly.

Mackney wants to raise the profile of referees and increase appreciation of their contribution to the game by players and spectators.

“The challenges put in front of referees, most of whom are aged between 13 and 18, while often confronting and daunting, provide an excellent opportunity for building character,” he said.

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