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Green socks campaign backing young referees at every level

A splash of green is becoming a more regular sight on rugby league fields across the state as the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) ramps up its support for young match officials.

For fans attending QRL fixtures in 2024, the message is this: “If their socks are green, they are under 18”.

The campaign, which is guided by 10 key pillars, aims to attract more referees and boost retention by creating a positive environment.

State match officials manager Clayton Sharpe said the initiative would complement the QRL’s existing Positive Environment Program (PEP).

“While wearing green socks may seem like a small change, it represents a powerful message for the rugby league community,” Sharpe said.

“Primarily, it is about treating young referees with respect, refraining from abuse, and understanding that our emerging match officials are still learning, just like the players.

“We’re putting all of our resources into this to foster a supportive atmosphere and enhance the experience for young referees who make an immense contribution to our sport every year.”

As a former Hostplus Cup referee who officiated in a record four-straight grand finals in Queensland’s premier competition, Sharpe has experienced many incredible moments in rugby league.

He’s travelled all over the state and country, having officiated in 132 National Rugby League (NRL) matches as a touch judge.

Green socks have been on display in junior statewide competitions matches already this season. Photo: Mitchell Ensby/QRL
Green socks have been on display in junior statewide competitions matches already this season. Photo: Mitchell Ensby/QRL

While there’s been many highs, the former Gladstone junior referee is familiar with the challenges that many young referees face in community and QRL statewide competition matches.

“Rugby league is a highly competitive sport, played and supported by passionate people,” Sharpe said.

“But that doesn’t excuse poor behaviour or negative comments directed at our referees.

“This campaign will be built on respect, encouragement, patience and enjoyment – they’re just some of the guiding messages that will form part of what we hope will be a very successful initiative.”

Find out more details about the "If their socks and green, they're under 18" campaign here.

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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