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Good Call: School footy proving valuable referee pathway

School rugby league carnivals are an important part of the development pathway for our referees and coaches and we couldn't be happier with their efforts at the recent schoolgirls and schoolboys 14-15 years and 16-18 years state titles.

Around 30 junior officials were hand-picked for the carnivals and with recommendations from our grassroots associations and our NRL referee development officers, they were identified as those who have many of the attributes and the desire to reach the next level.

These were supplemented by referees from community associations local to hosts Gold Coast and Townsville, giving them a taste of the standards we expect if they wish to push for the elite pathway.

It was also a fantastic opportunity for our developing coaches, who we paired with some of our more experienced coaches to continue their development as they influence the next generation.

This was all overseen by a familiar name to many in John Topp, back in the role as match officials pathways and development coordinator.

I know he was very happy with the quality from both a match official and coach standpoint and what they produced from those two carnivals, as well as the attitude and discipline, which are key ingredients needed for progression on the pathway.

'Toppy' is tremendous for our referees and has really improved the way we deliver our programs, everything from the organisation and logistics, right through to the quality of coaching.

He's been able to oversee the upskilling of not just the referees but to also assist in the upskilling of coaches.

In Townsville, we also had one of our most recent Hostplus Cup debutants in Taylor Worth lend his support to the carnival as a mentor.

When he's not refereeing Hostplus Cup, he's still in local A grade in Townsville and having gone through this same pathway himself, is a perfect example of the possibilities for any budding match official, especially those from regional areas.

The same pathway was also a vital learning experience that helped me progress into statewide and NRL opportunities.

Queensland Representative School Sport officials were also very happy with the level of officiating at both carnivals and the way we interacted with the teams and all those facilitating the carnivals, which is exciting for the future.

The officials and coaches who missed out on these carnivals will still have plenty of opportunities, with more school representative footy on the horizon.

We're looking forward to supporting the upcoming Confraternity Shield and for the first time the Queensland under 12 schools carnivals, which presents the right opportunity for our referees, who are older than the participants, to begin their development and get accustomed to the coaching available on our pathway.

Main image: Jorja Macdonald, Bayden Sawyers and Jaydin Fryer at the 2023 Queensland Representative School Sport Rugby League Schoolboys Championships.

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