Becoming a Football Referee

Western Suburbs Football Club supports the objective of the NZ Football to recruit and develop new referees including female representation. The club believes that increasing the number of referees in the game, and helping to mentor and educate new officials, will have a huge impact on the game in New Zealand. 

Refereeing is a great way to continue your enjoyment of the game after or even during your playing career.  If you have a passion for the game then refereeing can offer a different challenge.  It is a great way to keep fit, utilise and develop your people skills, and pursue a footballing pathway that allows for your own training schedule. It is also a great way of staying in touch with the game and friendships you have forged over time.

If you are interested in becoming a football referee in New Zealand, here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Contact Wests referee coordinator, Tony Vincent to express your interest in becoming a referee.
  2. Attend a Referee Course: There are referee courses at different levels, from beginners to advanced. The courses cover the rules of the game, match control, and referee ethics. Western Suburbs Football Club regularly sponsor beginner courses at no cost to participants.
  3. Complete the online Laws of the Game test: Once you have completed the referee course, you will need to pass an online test on the Laws of the Game. This test covers the rules and regulations of football and is a requirement to become a certified referee. There are also good websites that provide referee quizzes such as the Dutch Referee Blog.
  4. Officiate matches: Once you have passed the online test, you can start officiating matches. You will begin by refereeing lower-level matches and work your way up as you gain experience.
  5. Attend regular training and development sessions: To improve your skills as a referee, it’s essential to attend regular training and development sessions organized by your local association or NZ Football.
  6. Maintain your certification: To remain a certified referee, you will need to maintain your certification by attending refresher courses and passing regular assessments.

By following these steps, you can become a certified football referee in New Zealand and enjoy officiating the beautiful game.

Where to Start

What is the most important step for a buddying first-time referee?  You must have knowledge of the rules:


Click here on the above to open up the football BIBLE!

It’s a big bible so take time to read through it and get to know your rules. Keep a copy close by or have easy access and refer to it when you need refreshing.

There are also introductory ‘Club Based Referees Course’ aimed at teaching the essential Laws of the Game. Link

Tip – The law of most significance for you will be the offside rule – get to know it.

Next, the second most important step:

Get right into it and get some experience

  1. The obvious way is to start refereeing games.  If you are really unsure about it why not sidle up to another more experienced referee and co-ref.

Tip – The law of most significance for you will be the offside rule – get to practice it. The more calls you make, the better you will get at calling them.

  • Here is a good way to train your eye and practise your decision making – watch a televised game and try making the call before the game referee does – see how you go!  It is good to get them right and its is also good when you aren’t quite right but you have learnt from it

Tip – It is good to get them right but don’t go shouting at the referee if you think he has it wrong – they won’t hear you.

There are several key traits that make for a very good football referee:

  1. Knowledge of the game: A good football referee has a deep understanding of the game, including the rules, tactics, and strategies. They know how to read the game and anticipate potential issues before they occur.
  2. Confidence: A confident referee is essential to maintaining control of the match. They must be able to make quick and decisive decisions, even in high-pressure situations.
  3. Fairness: A good referee treats all players equally and is unbiased in their decision-making. They enforce the rules consistently and ensure that the match is fair for all participants.
  4. Communication skills: Effective communication is critical in maintaining order on the field. A good referee can communicate effectively with players, coaches, and other officials, both on and off the field.
  5. Fitness: Refereeing can be physically demanding, and a good referee must be in good physical condition to keep up with the pace of the game.
  6. Adaptability: A good referee can adapt to different situations and adjust their style of officiating accordingly. They are open to feedback and continuously looking for ways to improve their performance.
  7. Resilience: Refereeing can be a challenging and sometimes thankless job. A good referee must be able to handle criticism, learn from mistakes, and bounce back from difficult situations.

Overall, a good football referee has a combination of knowledge, confidence, fairness, communication skills, fitness, adaptability, and resilience. These traits help ensure that they can officiate matches effectively and make the game enjoyable for all participants.

Frequently Asked Questions about refereeing

Our West’s Referee Observations and Tips