Young referees on pathway to the top

Southland Football referees (from left) Zac Gargiulo, Sam Keen and Will Dymond.

SOUTHLAND Football is fortunate to have several young referees taking advantage of the pathways the sport offers.

Will Dymond, at 20, is the oldest of a talented trio.

Hopes of training to join the New Zealand Police this year were dashed by the Covid-19 outbreak, so Dymond was working as an apprentice mechanic, but the police goal remained.

Dymond was raised with football and started playing for the Old Boys’ Club when he was 7.

Three to four years ago he transitioned into refereeing.

“‘My goal has always been to go to a world cup, and realistically that wasn’t going to happen as a player, so I decided to give refereeing a go.

“Contacts in the police said to me that if I wanted to have a police career, refereeing would help develop similar qualities that are required for the job.

Dymond hardly played now, “only the odd social outing”, but he had worked hard to make his way up the refereeing ladder.

“You definitely get out what you put in and you need to surround yourself with the right people, plus I was raised in a good way,” he said.

“Football South referee development officer Lindsey Robinson definitely helps. She is good and develops good referees, not just for the higher levels.”

In 2018 Dymond was an assistant referee in the Women’s National League and the Youth National League, and in 2019 was an assistant referee in the Men’s National League, and a referee in the Youth National League.

This year he had featured as a referee in the Southern Premier League.

Gaining confidence
Samantha (Sam) Keen was another young, talented referee.

Keen was about to turn 18 and was in her final year at James Hargest College.

She played football at school and for her club, Thistle, but she decided there must be more to this for her.

“I am good at solving problems and stats, and one of my school coaches suggested refereeing.”

Keen had run the line a few times in Southern Premier League games and said, “the higher theĀ  level, the more they only worry about your decision, not your gender or the fact you are young”.

Keen’s goal was being on the line at a Women’s World Cup and attaining her FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) badge.

She too had big career aspirations and hoped to join the New Zealand Navy.

“Refeering helps with gaining confidence and is a leadership boost. It is also a leg up with fitness, all good for the Navy.”

Bright future
Zac Gargiulo is the youngest of the trio, turning 16 in December.

He was in Year 11 at Aurora College and started playing football at age 6.

He still played at school and was a member of the Queens Park Associated Football Club and had been part of the Southland United Academy set-up.

Late last year he decided to take club-based courses on refereeing and this year he took up refereeing as a pathway.

He had refereed up to Division 1 and would sit his Level 2 qualification soon.

Gargiulo said he “would like to get his FIFA badge and would like to referee at Southern Premier League or A League Level”.

Referees committee president Craig Smith said, “It’s a nice change to have young referees coming forward.

“These young ones are on a nationally recognised development pathway.”

Smith said the committee was keen to hear from people of all age groups who may be interested in taking up refereeing.

  • To find out more, phone Football South Referee Development manager Lindsey Robinson, on 022 372 7703 or email

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