NZF Pathway – Referee

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.

Each week hundreds of mums, dads and coaches grab a whistle, not because of a long-standing desire to be the best referee in the world, but simply because their kid’s game will be more enjoyable and safer if a few simple rules are followed.

For these individuals the Club Based Referee (CBR) programme provides the basics.

Level One Referees Certificate will equip you to officiate youth and local senior football.

The Level Two qualification will open the door to top federation and inter-federation leagues and in some cases national competitions like the National Youth League.

The Level 3 Certificate will not only arm you with the skills and knowledge to step up to the New Zealand Football Championship and National Women’s League but can also unlock a world of international opportunities with exceptional referees who achieve their FIFA badge assigned to international fixtures throughout Oceania.

After that the world awaits, with FIFA tournaments including World Cups and Olympic games on offer for top officials.

Alongside the referee pathway, a similar road exists for inspectors 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.

GUESS WHAT – you can be paid to be an official referee if appointed by Capital Football for Senior or Youth level matches.  Once you are qualified you can join the Capital Football pool of referees and they will assign you matches whenever you are available. Payment is on a per match basis.

The Wellington Region Sunday League also are looking out for competent referees and they also pay on a per match basis.

Courses for Referees


A short introduction to the Laws of the Game for those interested in the way the game is officiated and who wish to learn a little more.  


New referees go through this induction course before becoming available for appointments to a game. The course is essential ‘Refereeing 101’, covering the basic requirements to referee a game. You can then officiate in youth and local senior football, and progress to Level 2 quite quickly.


This is achieved through a field/court-based assessment. Candidates must demonstrate competency in eight areas, particularly relevant to fair play and the safety of players. From here (in football) you will get the chance to be an Assistant Referee at the higher level, and based on your performance you may be appointed to the higher leagues.


This is a more advanced accreditation course for those who wish to continue their development and referee at higher levels of the game.

Development Group, for referees with potential to the highest levels in our game. If you are selected into this group, you will likely be appointed to the Central League, Women’s National League or the men’s National League. National League officials are also part of the Development Group to provide leadership roles.

There are paths for promotion both as a Referee and Assistant Referee. At the higher levels, this often requires a referee to choose which direction he or she wants to pursue, with help from assessors of course.

Your ability and commitment can mean you may be selected to attend week-long National Referee Development Academies, which will help you learn even more about the art of refereeing.


This is a more extensive field/court-based assessment, which requires recommendations from assessors. In football, you will be required to referee two games at CPL or higherl, passing the mandatory requirements in both games. Candidates must also pass a fitness test. The next step here involves officiating in the National Competitions.


This is a course that qualifies candidates to referee at the highest domestic leagues and makes them eligible for nomination to international games. There a pre-requisites relating to the number of games refereed in the highest National Competitions.


This is the ultimate goal for officials and provides a world of opportunities, such as international fixtures throughout Oceania. After that, the world awaits, with FIFA tournaments including FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games on offer for top officials!

To be nominated as a referee, you need to be at least 25 years (23 for assistant referees). Each year the candidate needs to be re-nominated and undergo medical tests as well as the FIFA fitness test. There is no retirement age, but FIFA reserves the right to require referees over the age of 45 to undergo additional technical assessments as well as specific medical examinations and fitness testing on a case by case basis.


Alongside the referee pathway, a similar road exists for 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.