WHISTLE PATROL: Without their dedicated referees, the players at Lismore Basketball wouldn't have a game. L-R Len Ward, Jacob Harkins, Bec Wall and Josh Straub keep order at Lismore Stadium.
WHISTLE PATROL: Without their dedicated referees, the players at Lismore Basketball wouldn't have a game. L-R Len Ward, Jacob Harkins, Bec Wall and Josh Straub keep order at Lismore Stadium.

For the love of the game – what umpires and referees earn

EVERY weekend men and women of all ages pick up the whistle and prepare to umpire or referee a sporting match somewhere on the Northern Rivers and earning a bit of extra cash in the process.

While their professional counterparts can make a living from officiating at an Australian Rules or rugby league match, those enforcing the rules and fair play on the Northern Rivers are definitely doing for the love of the sport.

All sporting clubs and associations stressed match official fees are dependent on experience, accreditation level and seniority of teams playing.

Lismore Storm Basketball referee co-ordinator Rebekah Wall said referee training starts at age 12.

“We have 30 referees ranging from green-shirts (trainees) through to the more senior and experienced,” she said.

“Once they qualify they move into black and white stripes.”

Far North Coast Cricket Umpires & Scorers Association president Pat Holt said their modest remuneration depends on the grade you officiate.

“For a premier umpire at Hooker League its $120 per game, while the minimum for a full day game is $80.

“However, an umpire fee at a T20 game could be as low as $40 for three and half hours including a break.”

Lismore District Netball League Umpire Co-ordinator Deidre Coe said they currently have 20 to 30 juniors coming through the umpiring ranks.

“We have around 15 badge accredited umpires,” she said.

Football Far North Coast referee manager Luke Mackney said in 2019 they had 140 referees.

“Refereeing is good for building self-confidence, leadership and management skills,” he said,

Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Referees Association secretary Josh Gollan said their officials range from coaches and parents who want to help out at junior games through to those aspiring to make it to the NRL.

NRRRLRA match official coach Grant Savins said he loves assisting referees improve.

“Satisfaction comes from, being out there helping people enjoy their sport by providing structure and enforcing the sport’s laws,.” he said.

“You have to be thick-skinned, you don’t do it for the money, you do it for self-achievement.”

Elite baseball coach, Paul Latta, is committed to training the next generation.

“As a referee you are judged on every pitch,” he said.

“We don't have a strong number of baseball officials, we are looking to recruit more and have training night sessions for anyone wanting to learn.”

What umpires earn per game:

Aussie rules – $40-$120

Basketball – $5-$18

Cricket – $40-$120

Netball – $5-$20

Rugby League – $30-$150

Soccer – $25-$90