Rugby league a family game for young Carina referees

It’s been a family affair at Carina Juniors, with this past season seeing four sets of siblings get involved with the game of rugby league as referees.

Jeremy and Jacob Gregg -  the grandsons of late Queensland Rugby League independent director Terry Mackenroth, Jack, Josh and Lachie Ditchmen, Harry and Sam Kalpakadis, and Jacy and Caleb Holley have been key members of their club’s match official ranks.

 Jack, Lachlan and Josh Ditchmen. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL
Jack, Lachlan and Josh Ditchmen. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL

Carina recently earned praise for the number of new recruits they had involved in officiating the game at the Brisbane junior referees’ presentation day, with club referee co-ordinator Stewart Wyer counting eight new recruits, and 14 junior referees in total.

Wyer said the junior referee ranks at Carina grew in season 2019, and it was great to see the progress made by all the young match officials who put their hand up to test their skills.

“We’ve been very fortunate that these boys have been keen and taken up the challenge,” Wyer said.

“Most of them have refereed touch, and that certainly made their transition easier.

“We make sure they have fun, and try to teach them the basic skills they need to progress in refereeing ... in the future it would be nice to have a young (girl) join our group.”

Not only do the boys spend their weekend officiating games, all but one of them also play with the club.

Jeremy and Jacob Gregg. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL
Jeremy and Jacob Gregg. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL

Jacob, Jack and Sam are all 15 and have been playing for 10 years with the Carina Tigers.

Jeremy, 16, is the oldest of the sibling match official crew and is the only one not to play rugby league. However, while he doesn’t play, he is a big fan of the game; but likes to keep active by playing Australian rules and is also a match official for the red-ball code.

“(This was my) first year of being a league ref and I will continue next year,” Jeremy said.

“I wanted to ref (rugby league). I have previously done (Aussie Rules) reffing, but I had always been around rugby league and I wanted to get more involved.

“I still do (Aussie Rules), but now I am more involved in rugby league [as a match official].”

Caleb and Jacey Holley. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL
Caleb and Jacey Holley. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL

The youngest of the crew, Harry Kalpakidis, recently turned 13 and also played in the Carina Under 13 Division 2 team.

Harry made his refereeing debut in an Under 7 game in front of his dad Nick - a highly accomplished QRL match official who took charge of 124 Queensland / Intrust Super Cup games from 2007 to 2013 - and according to Wyer, showed the skills that has made the Kalpakadis name great in Queensland refereeing.

Wyer said that having Nick, and Rob Dunn, another former referee and the father of another Carina junior referee, available to help with coaching the boys had been amazing.

Sam and Harry Kalpakidis. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL
Sam and Harry Kalpakidis. Photo: Colleen Edwards / QRL

Harry said he got involved in refereeing because he loves the game and often tries to officiate as many games as possible each weekend as well as play.

“I like to play rugby league, it’s a fun sport. I play as well, I like the contact. I like to control the game a bit,” Harry said.

“I usually ref before (my game) and try and get a game after my game as well.

“(I like being a referee because) I like making decisions and having to think on your feet.

“I would recommend refereeing to other kids; it’s pretty fun, it’s good experience ... and it helps you play better.”

Refereeing is a fun, exciting, non-contact way to be involved with rugby league.

Not only do you get to see all the action from the best position on the field, but it’s a great way to keep fit, and meet new and interesting people.

Find out more about how to get involved as a match official at the Play Rugby League website.