TODAY'S story about our new and up-and-coming referees in Junior Sport is as encouraging as it is exciting.

How fantastic are these kids?

And let's face it - being the referee is really putting yourself out there!

Sadly, throughout their careers - be it at a local, national or even international level - these kids will cop sideline abuse, be stood up to by some really big players, have to break up fights and be knocked about from pillar to post by raging bull footy players with a tryline in their sights and adrenaline pumping through their veins.

Gosh, it almost sounds like working at The Observer!

Seriously though, it is really cool to see this new breed of sporting officials pulling up their socks and throwing the whistle around their necks to make their sport happen.

It is a thankless vocation and one which so many of us reckon we could do better - of course, never would the thought of ever leaving the grandstand or the armchair be worth entertaining with that.

In so many ways, while the players get the glory, it's these guys and girls who are keeping the game going.

It's in their knowledge, their presence of mind, their quick thinking and their whistle that we place our faith.

It's here that sportsmanship is at its best.

And it's here that the skill and an inherent passion for the game at hand is on display.

They've got a better-than-front row vantage point and they're calling the shots.

Yes, there are benefits. But mostly it's the players and spectators that reap the greatest reward from referees doing their job well.

To the young crew who have made their foray into the world of refereeing, we wish this: A good view, the ability to get out of the way, selective deafness and very well-tied shoe laces.



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