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2016 Scholarship Holders

Justin Power, Australian Football League

Justin Power started officiating 10 years ago, as a 13 year-old, after a school mate told him about the “pocket money and fitness benefits”.

After Power admitted to himself that he “wasn’t going to make it as a player”, becoming an AFL umpire would help him stay involved in the sport he loved.

The Perth-based official’s first breakthrough was making the 2010 junior talent squad, which was followed by a rise into the Western Australian Football League.

He made his WAFL debut in 2013, where Power umpired the last three games of the season.

“My career highlight to date would have to be my debut WAFL match, umpiring Subiaco against Swan Districts, which was a great experience,” Power said.

For Power, who umpired 17 out of 23 WAFL fixtures last season, as well as the Colts Grand Final, he has set himself the short-term goal of umpiring every WAFL game in 2016.

“I would like to umpire every WAFL game this year, after doing almost three-quarters of the games last season, as well as umpiring in the WAFL finals series,” he said.

As a National Officiating Scholarship recipient in 2016, Power wants to utilise the program to strive towards achieving this goal, along with his long-term ambition of making the AFL Panel.

“The NOS program will provide me with a vehicle to help me achieve consistency towards my overall performances,” Power said.

“My NOS mentor and current AFL umpire Simon Meredith, who has umpired three AFL Grand Finals, will also help me achieve my goals. I admire the way he goes about his umpiring, particularly after coming back from great adversity during his officiating career.”

Power, who works as a commercial accountant in his day-to-day job, believes his AFL officiating helps in his work, especially the “decision making skills”.

The 23 year-old said his dad is his “greatest supporter” and still attends every game Power umpires, as he continues his rise through the AFL umpiring ranks.

Luke Richardson, Australian Football League

Born in England, Luke Richardson moved to Australia at age eight in 2002, before quickly becoming acquainted with AFL.

Richardson played AFL for six seasons from the under-10s in Melbourne, before deciding in 2007 to become an umpire at the age of 13.

“I started umpiring to get a bit of cash, after being asked by my cousin and it allowed me to keep up fitness,” Richardson said.

But the rise through the AFL umpiring ranks hasn’t been a smooth side for the 22 year-old, with Richardson breaking his leg in 2013 after trialling for the Victorian Football League, and he feared for the worst.

“I thought it could be it, but I was eager to get back out there and umpire, so I still want along to training,” he said.

Through hard work and determination, Richardson made it back and achieved his career highlights to date of refereeing the under-16s Metro championships on the Gold Coast in 2014, and the North East Australian Football League championships in Sydney one year later.

As a branch manager of a solar pool heating company, the ambitious 22 year-old said he wants to umpire both a VFL reserves and TAC under-18s cup grand final this year, before umpiring a senior VFL grand final in the “next two to three years.”

“I often draw on my communication skills that I use with my customers and transfer these onto the field to help achieving my umpiring goals,” Richardson said.

Through his year in the National Officiating Scholarship program in 2016, Richardson wants to improve his mental strength to “back his ability” on the field and learn from his mentor Brett Rosebury, who has amassed 300 AFL appearances.

“Brett Rosebury is an idol for me – we both live in Melbourne, and I respect his consistency, calmness and communication and I just want to take everything in to move to the next level.

Richardson believes he was chosen in the NOS program “for a reason”, and it will certainly help him on his officiating journey as he strives towards being a field umpire for an AFL game.

Mitchell Scott, Australian Football League

Mitch Scott’s officiating journey starting after his former AFL coach suggested running a boundary line for another grade.

Scott also saw it as a way to “make money” and after getting a “taste” for umpiring, he joined the Central Australia Football League Umpires Association in Alice Springs in 2006.

He decided to stop playing AFL in 2009 at age 15 to focus on umpiring, and moved to Adelaide two years later for university.

It was here where his officiating took off and in 2012, Scott got onto the South Australian National Football League academy panel.

After two years of umpiring the under-18’s SANFL and under-16s national competitions, he joined the high-performance senior panel in 2014.

“My career highlight to date came after making the high-performance panel and I made my SANFL men’s debut as a field umpire in the penultimate round of the 2014 season,” Scott said.

Now as a 2016 National Officiating Scholarship holder, the 22 year-old wants to add to his total of eight SANFL matches, as a field umpire, and consolidate a regular spot in the competition.

“Last year I did six SANFL matches, so this year I would like to do more than half of the 18 fixtures, which I think is realistic, but consistency is the key,” he said.

“The NOS program represents an amazing opportunity to utilise the best minds in officiating and take things away from our meetings with each of the specialists.”

Scott, whose day-to-day job is an accountant, believes his officiating provides him with a “healthy balance to his life due to the distinct separation between the two roles”.

Through the assistance of his NOS mentor, two-time AFL grand final umpire Matt Nicholls, Scott will continue to work towards his long-term ambition of landing one of 32 spots on the AFL panel.

Nicholas McGinness, Australian Football League

Nic McGinness played junior footy in Canberra, before deciding to move into officiating in 2009.

He progressed through umpiring junior matches to move into the senior ranks, making his debut in the North East Australian Football League in 2012.

In the same year, McGinness umpired at the Under-16s Nationals with fellow National Officiating Scholarship holder Mitch Scott.

The 19 year-old’s career highlight to date was being the Emergency Umpire for the NEAFL Grand Final in 2015.

“This was a great achievement for where I’m at as an AFL umpire, particularly as I’ve got time on my side,” McGinness said.

In addition to his involvement in the NOS program in 2016, McGinness wants to achieve his short-term goal of being on the field to umpire this season’s NEAFL Grand Final, given he was “close last year”.

“The NOS program also allows us to meet other sporting officials and as a group of officials, we can learn from our shared experiences in officiating,” he said.

“The skills that I will learn in this program will hold me in good stead for the future and hopefully help me achieve my long-term goal for making the AFL panel.”

McGinness is also looking forward to working with his NOS mentor and ex-scholarship official Nick Foot, who has been on the AFL panel for the past five seasons, and shares a similar background to the 19 year-old.

In an interesting twist, Nic’s younger brother Ben, 17, is currently in the Greater Western Sydney Under-18s Academy, and if they both make it to AFL level one day, McGinness said this “could present a unique situation”.

David Taylor, Cricket

For David Taylor, Cricket has always been a major part of his life after being a former captain of Sydney first grade Cricket side Penrith, where he played 15 seasons with the club.

The 41 year-old, who hails from Dubbo, said he was approached by the Umpires boss during his last couple of seasons and he was presented with two choices.

“It was either continue playing, go into coaching or become an umpire, so another bouncing a few ideas around I decided to go into umpiring as I thought it might allow me to have better control over my own destiny,” Taylor said.

After deciding to turn his cricket focus to umpiring for the 2009/10 season, Taylor started officiating at second grade level, before moving up to first grade the following season, which he has officiated the last five years.

As a National Officiating Scholarship recipient for 2016, Taylor wants to use the “extraordinary support network” to help him works towards his short-term goal of making the Cricket Australia Project Panel.

“The NOS program will help me gain an awareness of my self-ability and repair any limitations I may have,” he said.

“The program therefore offers me an edge, and it gives me the opportunity to fix my weaknesses.”

Taylor is also looking forward to drawing on the help of his NOS mentor, physio Tony Larven, who is someone he “trusts working with”.

The 41 year-old said his Cricket umpiring idols are Simon Taufel, Richard Kettleborough and Rod Tucker, for their “calmness, control and sound decision-making”.

Taylor is hoping to draw on their attributes, along with the NOS support network, to help achieve his long-term ambition of making the Cricket Australia National Panel, followed by the International Cricket Council Panel.

Donavan Koch, Cricket

For Donovan Koch, his officiating journey stems from South Africa to Australia, via England.

Born in South Africa, Koch played club cricket in England, as their one overseas player from 1995-2010, and broke into first-class cricket in Cape Town for four seasons from 1999.

Koch moved to the United Kingdom in 2003, where he focused on club cricket in England and got married in the same year.

But in 2010, at 34, Koch decided he wasn’t enjoying playing as much so he decided to hang up the boots, but took up umpiring in England to “stay in the game”.

Through some valuable advice from fellow player Richard Kettleborough, who last year won the International Cricket Council’s umpire of the year award, Koch’s umpiring career took off particularly after the England Cricket Board found out he played in South Africa.

“I was quickly put on an umpiring pathway and fast-tracked by the ECB, which helped me get a leg up on the competition,” Koch said.

But in September 2012, he moved to Brisbane after his wife Samantha got a job, and although current ICC umpires Marais Erasmus and Bruce Oxenford forwarded Koch’s credentials to Queensland cricket, things didn’t quite go to plan right away.

“I was given a sixth grade assignment in my first match umpiring match in Australia.  I knew it was going to be slow but I thought ‘oh no what have I done’,” the 39 year-old said.

But through hard work and dedication, Koch swiftly moved up the Queensland umpiring ranks and after winning the first grade award in 2013/2014, he achieved his career highlight to date in January 2016 by umpiring two India v Western Australia warm-up matches.

After being awarded a National Officiating Scholarship, Koch wants to claim one of six spots in the Cricket Australia development panel by the start of next season and he feels he can certainly learn from fellow officials.

“The NOS program is an amazing opportunity as we’re all different and I want to get as much out of it as possible, particularly in regards to nutrition,” Koch said.

The 39 year-old, who works as a supervisor for a baggage handling business as his day-to-day job, is looking forward to working with his NOS mentor and Queensland state cricket director, Rod Dunbar, as he strives towards his long-term goal of snaring a place on the Cricket Australia elite panel.

Simon Lightbody, Cricket

For Simon Lightbody, becoming a cricket umpire was a way to stay involved in the sport after playing for many years.

Lightbody started umpiring at the end of the 2005/06 season, and in January 2009 officiated at the Under-17s National Championships in Perth where he came into contact with Cricket Australia high-performance observers.

Identified as having some potential, it was suggested to the Canberra-based umpire that he “test” himself in a tougher environment, and that Sydney might be the way forward.

“After a couple of games in Sydney during the 2011/12 season, I started driving to Sydney full-time at the start of the 2012/13 season to officiate in the Sydney Grade Competition and that move has certainly brought officiating rewards,” Lightbody said. 

“It was then I came into contact with Darren Goodger, now the Executive Officer of the New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association. 

“Darren has had an enormous positive impact on my career and his candour, honesty and assistance with my development and improvement has been huge.”

In his day-to-day job of owning and operating a travel agency, the 50 year-old, lists managing staff as a skill he believes transcends onto the cricket field in managing and dealing with players. 

Lightbody’s officiating career highlight to date was umpiring the four-day Under-19s International between Australia and England in April 2015 at the WACA in Perth, in a match played under “test-match conditions”.

As a National Officiating Scholarship holder in 2016, Lightbody said he wants to use the program and draw on the experiences of his highly-distinguished mentor Simon Taufel to progress to the next level, as well as learning from officials in other sports for anything he can adapt to his craft, and by immersing himself fully in the NOS program. 

Currently one of five members of Cricket Australia’s Development Panel, Lightbody’s next step would be to gain selection in the 12 person Cricket Australia National Panel that officiate Australia’s domestic First Class fixtures.

“I have known Simon Taufel for a few years and I feel his brutal honesty will enable me to continue to improve as an umpire.”

Lightbody said he has nothing but the utmost of respect for Taufel, who won an amazing five consecutive International Cricket Council Umpire of the Year awards between 2004 and 2008, particularly for his “composure, presence, teamwork and decision making”.

A self-confessed cricket lover, Lightbody said his long-term goal is to umpire at the highest level that his skills will allow.

Jonathan Barreiro, Football

A self-confessed football fan, Jonny Barreiro started playing football at age six, encouraged by his Uruguayan father who was the “reason he got into football”.

As a 14 year-old, Barreiro decided to get involved in officiating after teammates told him “it was a good way of earning cash”.

Barreiro “got serious” with his refereeing at 18, after stopping playing one year earlier, and he was quickly put into a talent identification program.

“It all happened pretty quickly and the breakthrough came in the 2009/2010 season, when I made it to referee at the National Youth League level,” Barreiro said.

After three seasons as an assistant referee from the 2011/2012 season, Barreiro made a “risky” decision in April 2015 to become a centre referee as he “enjoyed it more”.

“The risk made off though and I soon made the fourth officials A-League panel, which is the reserve referees,” the 26 year-old said.

Barreiro’s career highlight to date then came on January 9th 2016 when he made his A-League centre referee debut in Sydney FC’s 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets at ANZ Stadium.

“I found out on the Monday before the game – I thought it was a stitch up at first as it’s usually rare for fourth officials to get chosen as the referee, but I was excited to take the opportunity,” he said.

After gaining a National Officiating Scholarship in 2016, Barreiro wants to use his year in the program to get the most out of the specialists and continue to learn from his mentor, and ex-NOS scholarship recipient, Jarred Gillett.

“I want to use this year in the NOS program to gain an edge on my refereeing competitors, bump up my professionalism and continue to learn from Jarred and fellow A-League referee, Chris Beath – as I look up to both of them,” Barreiro said.

Barreiro, who also works as a lawyer, has set himself the short-term goal of making the A-League refereeing panel in the next two years, with his long-term ambition of reaching FIFA badge referee status.

Lara Lee, Football

Football is in Lara Lee’s blood, with the Brisbane-based official playing for 14 years until a knee injury meant it was time for something new if she was to stay involved in the sport.

As a qualified teacher, Lee then started officiating to gain “an extra qualification” and after being asked by her friend, eventually she decided to get involved four years later at age 21 in 2009.

Through hard work and determination, Lee made her W-League debut as a centre referee in the 2011/2012 season and the 27 year-old’s career highlight to date was refereeing an entertaining clash between Melbourne City and Canberra United in November, 2015.

The highly motivated official has set herself a variety of short-term and long-term goals to continue her growth as a football referee.

“This year my goal is to make the top four officials in the W-League and I think I could be close to achieving this, and long-term I want to gain a FIFA badge,” Lee said.

As a National Officiating Scholarship holder in 2016, Lee believes the extraordinary support in the program can help her achieve these goals.

“I want to use my year in the NOS Program as a stepping stone to gain that one percent edge on my competitors,” she said.

“In particular, through the help of the nutritionist and psychologist, this will improve my match fitness and mental toughness to help with the difficult matches.”

Lee said she is looking forward to working with her mentor Jacqui Melksham, who refereed the 2011 FIFA World Cup quarter-final between Brazil and United States in Germany.

Along with gaining valuable insights from Melksham, a female official who has made it at football’s highest level, Lee paid tribute to assistance she has gained from current A-League referees Chris Beath and Jarred Gillett, the latter an ex-NOS scholarship holder.

As Lee continues her rise up the football officiating ranks, she will continue to draw on her pre-match routine where she tells herself to “trust yourself and that you’ve worked hard to get to where you’re at”.

Jeremy Coleman, Hockey

Hockey runs deep in Jeremy Coleman’s blood with his whole family involved in the game and brother and sister, both former Victorian state players.

Coleman started playing Hockey from his “early years” and starting umpiring when he was 12, but kept playing until under-17s in 2012.

The Melbourne-based official’s career then started to take off and he umpired under-21s at 17, before moving up to the Australian Hockey League open men’s in 2014.

“I have umpired the AHL for the past two seasons, along with the Victorian Premier League for five years, and gained my international badge in October, 2015 in Malaysia,” Coleman said.

In his high-pressure day-to-day job as a pilot, the 20 year-old regularly transfers these skills in officiating hockey.

“As I pilot I deal with stressful situations and I certainly draw on these while umpiring hockey,” he said.

Through gaining a National Officiating Scholarship in 2016, Coleman wants to incorporate the nutritional and psychological benefits into his hockey umpiring.

“The nutritional and psychological skills aren’t discussed much in normal officiating and I’m also looking forward to learning the high-performance aspect from being in the NOS program,” Coleman said.

Coleman also believes he can learn from his NOS mentor, ex-AHL umpire Mick McLean, another Melbourne local, to achieve his short-term goal of making the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) panel by this season.

If the ambitious 20 year-old can achieve this goal, he wants to umpire at the World Cup and Olympics within the next five years.

Ben Watts, Rugby League

As a former rugby league player for Brisbane-based Aspley and a former cricketer for Sandgate Redcliffe, Ben Watts headed down the officiating path in 2008.

It wasn’t until the 2010 season though, when Watts “realised his potential” and made the decision to focus his energy on rugby league refereeing.

“Former NRL referee Eddie Ward came and saw me, and I had to choose between continuing playing or refereeing, so I chose refereeing,” Watts said.

Watts regularly draws on experiences from his day-to-day job as a police officer, each time he runs out as a referee.

“Refereeing sometimes feels like a step down and an escape from my job in a way, but my experiences as a police officer always help on the field,” he said.

Watts said his career highlight to date was refereeing the FOGS Colts under-20s grand final in 2015 at the cauldron of Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in his first “big one” as a referee.

After gaining a National Officiating Scholarship for 2016, Watts made his Intrust Super Cup refereeing debut in the round one clash between Mackay Cutters and Central Queensland Capras, and now has his sights set on a long-term ambition of becoming an NRL referee.

“I was extremely proud to make my Intrust Super Cup debut so early on in 2016 and enjoyed every minute,” said Watts, who became the 60th Queensland Cup referee after his debut in Mackay.

“From here, I want to break into the Holden Cup (under-20’s) squad and eventually referee in the NRL.”

As a police officer, Watts said he has taken solace from former star NRL referee Bill Harrigan, who “showed the balance between being a cop and referee can be achieved through sacrifices and dedication”.

The Brisbane-based referee is also looking forward to working with his NOS mentor Ashley Klein, who has amassed over 130 NRL appearances as well as 150 in the English Super League.

As his rise continues, Watts will continue to draw on his personal mantra of “speak to people how you want to be spoken to and, as a result, you’ll maintain the respect from players and other officials”.

Karra-Lee Nolan, Rugby League

For Karra-Lee Nolan, getting involved in rugby league officiating was a way of getting some “extra pocket money at first”.

With Nolan’s father being a rugby league referee, along with her two brothers playing, officiating footy became a logical decision for the Shellharbour-based official.

After refereeing for two years, Nolan was “tapped on the shoulder” in 2013 and placed in the Country Rugby League development squad.

While admitting she didn’t have her best game at the junior representative carnival that same year, Nolan said it provided her with a real “eye opener”.

“And then the following year, in 2014, I came back to be ranked first and I was given the opportunity to referee the County Championships Grand Final,” Nolan said.

Nolan rates her National Officiating Scholarship mentor and former National Rugby League referee Steve Clark, who refereed over 300 NRL matches, as “an idol and influential in her development”.

“It was an amazing experience to have Steve Clark watch me refereeing the Country Championships Grand Final in 2014 and the following year, I made the National Rugby League referee academy, which led to great development opportunities,” she said. 

The 22 year-old said being the first female to referee a Group 7 first grade men’s game in Wollongong in 2015, along with refereeing the National under-15s schoolboys final in June last year, as her career highlights to date.

As a NOS recipient in 2016, Nolan wants to continue refereeing consistently at the New South Wales junior representative levels, including at the Harold Matthews Cup competition after debuting there as a referee this season.

“Through the NOS program, I want to improve my maturity and understanding as a referee, which will continue to make me become a better official,” Nolan said.

Currently in her final year at university, studying to become a PDHPE teacher, Nolan is striving towards achieving her long-term refereeing goals of making the NSW Grade squad, on her way to being in the full-time NRL squad.

Nicholas Pelgrave, Rugby League

Resilience is a word which best describes Nick Pelgrave’s rise as a rugby league referee.

After playing league as a halfback for 13 years, a shoulder injury while he was training with the FOGS Colts Grade team in 2009, ultimately forced Pelgrave to hang up the boots.

Two years earlier, Pelgrave decided to do a rugby league referee course after his coach, Darcy Roberts said “you are one of those big mouth players that like to lend assistance to officials, so maybe you should become a referee”.

As a result of his injury, Pelgrave was either going to miss 12 months of footy or decide to accelerate his refereeing, and after Roberts said “you can make a career out of refereeing”, that was enough to make his decision.

Three years later in 2012, Pelgrave fought his way back to FOGS Colts level, this time as a referee, and one year later he refereed the Grand Final.

But in 2014, disaster struck twice for Pelgrave as missed five months after requiring shoulder surgery and then in his comeback game, he tore his hamstring and the 24 year-old thought he simply “couldn’t take a trick”.

Pelgrave though is a determined person and through hard work and dedication, he returned for the last round of the 2014 season, before making his Instrust Super Cup debut as referee for Burleigh Bears v Sunshine Coast in March 2015, which is his career highlight to date.

“It was amazing to make my Instrust Super Cup debut, especially given my setbacks, but funnily enough I was actually meant to debut the week before, but Cyclone Nathan meant the game got cancelled,” Pelgrave said.

A remarkably resilient individual, Pelgrave went on the referee 16 out of 24 Instrust Super Cup matches in 2015, along with refereeing the final round Holden Cup under-20s clash between Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm at the iconic Suncorp Stadium.

“As a National Officiating Scholarship holder in 2016, I want to replicate my feats from last season and want to ensure I don’t suffer from any second year syndrome,” he said.

Pelgrave is currently training with the Queensland referees academy, where he is exposed to former National Rugby League officials, including Steve Clark and Eddie Ward.

And 24 year-old Pelgrave believes this experience, in addition to the valuable insights he can take from the NOS program and his “similarly resilient” mentor, NRL referee Matt Cecchin, will help him work towards his long-term ambition of a securing a full-time NRL contract.

Todd Smith, Rugby League

As a self-confessed “footy lover”, Todd Smith decided to get involved in rugby league officiating in 2005 as a 14 year-old after having an interest in refereeing.

While Smith continued playing league for a couple more seasons himself, he decided at the end of the 2007 season that he “wasn’t going to make it as a player”, so he focused on refereeing.

After finishing school in 2008, Smith made the Junior Representative squad the following year, which allowed the Manly-based official to referee Harold Matthews Cup and SG Ball junior competitions.

“I was in the Junior Representative squad into 2013 and in that year, I refereed the Under-16s Australia Nationals Final and Harold Matthews Grand Final, which are both still career highlights for me to this day,” Smith said.

After graduating from the Junior Representative squad, Smith secured his place in the NSW Grade squad, during the middle of the 2013 season, where allowed him to referee the Sydney Shield, Ron Massey, NSW and Holden Cups.

In 2015, the 24 year-old ran the touchline for the Holden Cup and he also secured a job as an NRL Game Development Officer, after working for the New South Wales RL for four years.

Smith, who wants to secure his spot in the Holden Cup referee squad in the next few seasons, said he is excited about being a National Officiating Scholarship recipient this year.

“The NOS program presents a unique situation where I’m able to learn from other officials this year, which can help me refereeing,” he said.

As part of the NSW Grade squad, Smith was able to train and liaise with the current top NRL referee Gerard Sutton in 2015 and he believes this experience, along with the invaluable insights he can draw from his NOS mentor Steve Clark, will help his progress as a referee.

“I have essentially modelled my refereeing style on Steve Clark, particularly the way he dealt with players during his career and the motto of being ‘hard but fair’,” Smith said.

Smith admitted that Clark, who refereed over 300 NRL matches, is “the best referee he has ever seen” and if he can successfully implement the former NRL referee’s traits, he will be well on his way in achieving his long-term goal of making the full-time NRL referee squad.

Andrew Cox, Rugby Union

As a current player and captain of Parramatta in Sydney’s Shute Shield competition, Andrew Cox’s officiating journey has been different than most. 

The 28 year-old, who is Parramatta’s second most capped skipper in first grade history, was approached by Australian Rugby Union referee Dan Cheever to see if he was interested in refereeing. 

“It all happened pretty quickly and they were interested in turning ex-players into referees with an opportunity to be ‘fast tracked’. So far I am proud of my officiating achievements to date,” Cox said. 

Cox, currently a dual player and referee, started his officiating in Sydney fourth grade in 2015 and refereed the third grade Grand Final between Eastwood and Eastern Suburbs in the same year, which is one of his career officiating highlights to date. 

“I am appreciative of the opportunities given to me, and the ARU’s flexibility to allow me to keep playing, whilst continuing to support me in my refereeing pursuits," he said. 

In addition to being an assistant referee for the IRB World Sevens hosted by Sydney in February 2016, Cox was also part of a National Rugby camp in Brisbane, which included the ARU National Panel referees. 

Cox said he wants to use his year in the National Officiating Scholarship program as a “stepping stone” to achieving his short-term goal of focusing on refereeing and continuing to progress his officiating skills.  

“The NOS program will provide me with a stepping stone towards a professional refereeing environment, which will help me consolidate my skills from last year and work towards refereeing at the higher levels,” Cox said. 

The 28 year-old, who also works as a rehab counsellor in his day-to-day job, is looking forward to learning from his NOS mentor this year, former IRB Panel referee Matt Goddard. 

Cox said he wants to use all the resources in the NOS program in 2016 to continue his “transformation from player to official” as he strives towards his goal of securing a place on the National Rugby Panel. 

Brett Cronan, Rugby Union

For Brett Cronan, it was his father who has always been heavily involved in his rugby union career, acting as the coach and manager of Brett’s side from a young age.

Cronan continued to play rugby while at high school and while he continued to enjoy playing, he admitted he wasn’t a “great player”.

The 22 year-old was given an opportunity in year 10 through the refereeing director at Brisbane’s Nudgee College and two years later, he gained a school refereeing scholarship, which was only given to 12 officials across Queensland.

After reaching a hefty 121 kilograms in his first year out of school in 2011, Cronan conceded “the writing was on the wall” if he was going to make it as a referee.

“This was the turning point in my officiating where my coaches pushed me to be fitter and this paid off in 2013 where the opportunities really started to come,” Cronan said.

After gaining valuable insights in 2014 from his referee coach Geoff Pegg, and assistance from Super Rugby assistant referee Damien Mitchelmore, Cronan achieved his career highlight to date.

“I was given a chance to referee an ‘opportunity game’ between Sunnybank and GPS on April 25th 2015 in Queensland Premier rugby as a centre referee, and to have Scott Young as a referee coach saying that I had potential, was amazing,” Cronan said.

Now, as a 2016 National Officiating Scholarship holder, Cronan wants to gain advice in regards to the mental side of refereeing, in particular the difference between being an “an authoritative figure versus showing the players empathy”.

“Through the NOS program I want to get to the next step of refereeing the National Rugby Championship this year, and then being touchline for Super Rugby in 2017,” he said.

Cronan believes through the help of his NOS mentor Greg Hinton and his dealings with idol Andrew Cole, the 22 year-old can achieve his long-term goal of becoming a Super Rugby referee.

Charles Hartson, Rugby Union

Charles Hartson’s officiating journey started during high-school at Waverly College, who were encouraging “rugby players to become officials”.

The 26 year-old completed the officiating course during year 11 at school in 2006 and after he finished his rugby playing days the following year, Hartson started to focus on refereeing.

Based in Sydney, Harston then joined the New South Wales Rugby Referees Association in 2008 and he has since achieved various highlights in his officiating career.

“One of my career highlights so far would have to be my debut match as a referee at Shute Shield level in the match between Penrith and West Harbour in April 2015,” Hartson said.

Hartson, who was also a referee at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa in September 2015, is looking forward to his year in the National Officiating Scholarship program.

“The amazing resources involved in the NOS program will help improve my performance, in particular being able to gain a good connection with my mentor, and former International and Super Rugby referee, Ian Smith,” he said.

Working as a biomedical engineering in his day-to-day job, the 26 year-old said he wants to keep “challenging himself” as he strives towards securing his short and long term goals in rugby refereeing.

“This season I aim to perform consistently in every opportunity and have the knowledge that I have done everything within my ability off the field to allow this to occur,” Hartson said.

“In my job as a biomedical engineer, I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself to achieve excellence and I think this transcends into rugby officiating, which I’m sure other sports’ officials can relate to.”

Hartson is hoping to draw on valuable insights from his NOS mentor, Smith, along with the entire NOS support network, to assist him in achieving his ambitions in high-performance officiating.

Jacqui McNamara, Swimming

With 20 years of swimming officiating experience, Jacqui McNamara first decided to get involved in 1996 when her kids joined the local swimming club.

McNamara’s first national meet came in 2001, where she was timekeeper for star Australian swimmers including Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett and it was there where swimming officiating “got into her blood”.

From there, McNamara officiated at a range of state and regional swimming meets until gaining status as a state swimming referee in 2006.

The Western Australia-based official then claimed the top honour in Australia in 2012 after becoming a national pool swimming referee.

“The next step for me is becoming a FINA referee which I want to achieve by the end of 2016, particularly after being awarded a National Officiating Scholarship,” McNamara said.

“If I made it to FINA referee status, I would be very excited as it comes with amazing selection opportunities, such as the Olympics and World Championships.”

One of the 51 year-old’s career highlights to date was at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships on the Gold Coast where she was side by side with American superstar Michael Phelps and she said “it was pretty incredible but I had to very quickly separate my fan and referee hat”.

As a NOS holder in 2016, McNamara wants to utilise every component of the program, including the assistance of her mentor and former FINA official Jan Fathers, as she works towards her long-term goal of officiating at the 2020 Olympics.

“Jan is a role model for me particularly the way she handles herself, and always shares advice with me about how I can improve as a referee,” she said.

McNamara, who works with special needs children in her day to day job, believes her work skills help in refereeing, particularly being “patient and showing understanding”.

Despite being a rising swimming official, McNamara said she never learned to swim after growing up in the small New Zealand town of Kurow, made famous by Rugby icon Richie McCaw.

Kate Reynolds, Swimming

For Kate Reynolds, her officiating journey started in the United States of America and crossed the globe to Australia, via the United Kingdom.

Born in the south-west English county of Dorset, Reynolds moved to Chicago in 1994 for 14 years, before temporarily returning home, and then settling in Australia in 2010.

Her officiating career started as a “Bull Pen” Volunteer, also known as Marshalling, after getting “bored” of waiting around at meets for her kids to complete their races.

After that, there was no looking back. Reynolds worked her way through the various pool deck duties to complete the YMCA and USA swimming referee accreditations in 2005 and 2007 respectively.

In 2008, Reynolds and her family then relocated back to the UK and naturally she continued her officiating career.

Anticipating a long-term commitment in the UK, Reynolds began her re-accreditation as a British Swimming Referee and passed the theoretical exams in 2010.

However, she never got the chance to complete the practical exam as Reynolds once again relocated, this time to Australia.

After the move to Perth in 2010, Reynolds took a break from officiating, but missed it so much that she signed up for 2011/2012 swimming season and once again went through the assessments to get her Australian accreditation.

It was during this season where Reynolds became involved in Open Water Officiating and was “hooked” immediately.

“I love being out on the water and creating an environment for the athletes to excel,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds has been the Chief Referee at the Open Water Swimming 2014 State Championships, and referee at the 2015 & 2016 Australian Age and Open, and the OWS Championships.

A National Officiating Scholarship holder for 2016, the Perth-based official has set herself the short-term goal of making the FINA list, as an Open Water Official.

“Making the FINA list allows me access to international level experience and I would be ecstatic to make it, as it’s something I am working very hard towards,” she said.

“The NOS program will give me the tools and expertise to learn how to manage the soft skills of officiating, helping me to strengthen my confidence and improve certain areas, to get to the next level of my officiating career.”

Reynolds is also looking forward to drawing on the experiences of her NOS mentor and former FINA official Jan Fathers, as she works towards her long-term personal goal of officiating at the 2024 Olympics as an Open Water Swimming Official.

Ben Carter, Tennis

Based in Sydney’s south-west, Ben Carter’s officiating journey started in 2007 after fellow tennis coach and official, Laurie Geist, asked him to fill in at a tournament at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.

After an “enjoyable experience”, Carter signed up as with Tennis Officials New South Wales and has rarely looked back.

Carter quickly progressed through the tennis officiating ranks after taking up chair umpiring in 2010, and in 2013, he gained an International Tennis Federation white badge certification in Bangkok, Thailand.

Along with various overseas ventures to officiate at ITF futures events in Europe in the years since, Carter said his career highlights to date include officiating at his first overseas grand slam at the US Open in 2015.

“Officiating at the US Open was overwhelming but an amazing experience, this along with chairing the boys singles final at the Australian Open in 2014 and main draw matches the following year, would be my career highlights so far,” Carter said.

In his day-to-day job as a PDHPE teacher, Carter believes some of the skills certainly overlap with tennis officiating, particularly being “disciplined and flexible”.

In the short-term, Carter said he wants to get to the next level and gain an ITF bronze badge, but he does have some limitations given his teaching job.

“Bronze badge is where I want to be, I had aspirations to go further in the past, but teaching is going well at the moment,” he said.

Through gaining a National Officiating Scholarship in 2016, Carter wants to “take things from all the best officials” to achieve his goal of an ITF bronze badge, as well as continuing to “see more of the world through officiating and hopefully umpiring at all four grand slams”.

Carter’s NOS mentor Donna Kelso, who has achieved everything in tennis as both a chair umpire and now an ITF supervisor, is certainly a person who he looks up to as an “idol” and can help guide him in the years to come.

Bjorn Wettstein, Tennis

Bjorn Wettstein’s tennis officiating career spans over 30 years, with his first tournament in Zurich after being asked by a friend to “give it a go”.

The Switzerland-born official moved up the officiating ranks during the 1990s, where he started as a linesman, before becoming both a chief and chair umpire.

After securing an International Tennis Federation White Badge in Turkey in 2000, this was followed four years late when Wettstein got his ITF Silver Badge Chief accreditation, in the same year he was a linesman at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

The 50 year-old went on to umpire eight consecutive Wimbledon main-draws, as a line umpire from 2007-2014, during which he moved to Australia in 2009.

Working as a Business Consultant in Banking IT, Wettstein viewed Tennis as a “hobby for 8-10 weeks a year”, until May 2015 when he was made redundant and is now pursuing officiating on a full-time basis.

“It is currently a transition period for me and I have to juggle commitments,” Wettstein said.

In his 30 years of officiating, Wettstein has various career highlights and said “tennis has always been a part of his life”.

“Umpiring seven Australian Open Singles Finals has been amazing, plus being in the chair for a Wheelchair Quad Final, and the 2015 Junior Girls Singles Final, which is a highlight for me as a chair umpire,” he said.

The vastly-experienced official has also been a line umpire for three Wimbledon Singles Finals from 2012-2014, and a chief umpire, in charge of all the line umpires, for the past seven consecutive Sydney Internationals.

Wettstein believes the National Officiating Scholarship program should help him achieve his short-term goal of securing an ITF Bronze Badge as a chair umpire this year.

“The NOS program allows us to learn from other officials and I think that will help improve my handling of difficult situations on court, which in turn will help me move to the next level,” Wettstein said.

Wettstein was also draw on the similar experiences of his NOS mentor Donna Kelso, who has achieved essentially all the accolades in tennis officiating, as he continues to improve himself as an “all-round” tennis official.

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