The Hyundai A-League has taken a significant step forward with Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announcing the appointment of three full time professional referees from the start of the 2015/16 Season.
The move to introduce full time professional referees for the first time in Australian domestic football history is another natural progression in the development of the Hyundai A-League, which is now well and truly embedded in the Australian sporting landscape.
The establishment of this professional referees program now provides a clear career pathway from the grassroots to the very top of the game which was outlined in the Whole of Football Plan released last month.
Players, clubs, media, fans and the referees themselves have been calling for full time referees over recent years to allow officials more time to prepare mentally and physically for the demands of the Hyundai A-League.
Head of Hyundai A-League, Damien de Bohun, was thrilled with the announcement that full-time referees would officiate in the Hyundai A-League for the 2015/16 Season.
“The Hyundai A-League is a professional competition and the last frontier has been the appointment of professional referees,” de Bohun said.
“We have been working towards this outcome for the past three years and we are proud to announce that we are able to appoint our first professional referees for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.
“I must give credit to Ben Wilson, our Director of Referees, who has worked hard to improve the conditions and professionalism of our all our matches officials.
“The concept of professional referees has been warmly welcomed by the Hyundai A-League club chairmen when they were formally advised last week.
“By having our best referees become full-time professionals, we will be giving them every opportunity to prepare themselves physically and mentally for each match so they can perform at their optimum level each week.”
FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson was equally pleased to see the introduction of professional referees this season.
“This initiative will allow our referees to achieve a better work/life balance and hopefully extend their careers,” Wilson said. “We hope to provide the perfect conditions for referees to officiate to their maximum potential.
“This is the first step in the process with our goal being to have a fully professional referee panel in the future and gives young referees a real career path.”
Initially, the three referees will each be offered two-year contracts and in addition to professional refereeing, would participate in a referee well-being program which has been established to enhance the development and welfare of all Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League match officials.
FFA will go through a recruitment process and will be encouraging all interested referees to apply. Applications opened yesterday and close on 3 July. The successful candidates will be announced in mid-July.
The referees will meet regularly at the Referee Headquarters at the FFA’s Centre of Excellence which is located at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
For more information please visit www.footballaustralia.com.au