Referee in Focus – Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones has been a Westfield W-League referee since 2011 and has been a member of the Australian Sports Commission’s National Officiating Scholarship program. She shares some of her insights on being an elite referee in the Westfield W-League.

How did you become involved in refereeing?
Kelly Jones:
I first became interested in refereeing when I was 14 having played football with my friends from school. My entire family love football and we have all played and refereed at some time. My father encouraged me to do a Futsal referees course to earn some pocket money and a year later I completed an all-female football referee’s course which was held at Football NSW to encourage women to take up the challenge.

Can you describe a week in the life of a W-League referee?
A normal week for me includes three gym sessions at my local gym for strength and conditioning, a person training session to develop endurance and two sessions where I practice drills for speed and agility. After the weekends’ game I take time to review my performance using the match video and analyse my match assessment report.

What do you do to keep a balance between your personal, professional and refereeing life?
I really enjoy what I do, so working hard and being fully committed to the sport is easy for me. I am fortunate enough to have the support of my family who are always there encouraging me to work hard to achieve my goals. On the days I have free, these are spent chilling out with friends, shopping or going to the beach.

How do you keep focused during a match and not let emotions influence decisions?
Being calm and focused is the key to being a good referee. There are always decisions to be made during a game and it is important to keep a clear head in order to make the right decision. The pre-match talk with my referee team helps during a game; just knowing they are there to assist and support you if the need arises is very reassuring.

In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in football in recent years?
The success of the Matilda's and the evolving interest in playing football at grassroots level has seen an increase in female players to the sport.  Not so long ago girls had to play in boys teams, now most associations have female teams in all age groups similar to the boys. I currently work at FNSW where we are developing a Female Referee Program to help reduce the churn rate of Female Referees and encourage more into the game. I believe the current focus by FNSW and FFA on all aspects of Female participation within football will leave a lasting legacy within the sport. At the elite level, women’s football has developed at a rapid rate.  We have some very fast and skilful players in the competition and this is why referees train so hard to be on top of the game at all times.

What is the key to building positive relationships with players and coaches?
Communicating openly and being respectful of one another is the key to any relationship.  When speaking to players and managers I always try to understand their point of view at the same time making the right decision for the game.

What do you consider to be the most important characteristic of an elite referee?
Being confident in your ability to perform and having a good attitude. Obviously this is backed up with your knowledge of the game, fitness level and experience.

What match or moment stands out as a highlight in your refereeing career?
My highlight to date was refereeing Round 7 of the W-League in October 2014, Melbourne Victory v Canberra United at Etihad stadium.  This game had a competition record attendance of 14,068.