By Tony Mithen
BEING a rugby league referee is hard work. You must be fit, know all the rules and – above all – be confident you can control the game.
Bailey Patterson, from Morayfield, in Queensland’s Moreton Bay region, is all of the above.
“I just love footy,” he says. “I played for two years before I started refereeing. I just wanted to see another side of the game, to help out and just be around the game.”
Hundreds of games under his belt
Bailey, who’s 15 and goes to Morayfield State High School, has refereed hundreds of games in the three years he’s been on the job.
“I do touch judge for the senior games every week, interchange for the A Grade, I’ve gotten finals in my second year and the under-11 grand final,” he says.
“This year I worked my way up to under-14s and I did finals, but I was away for grand final week.”
Bailey missed grand final week for a good reason: he was refereeing at the first Queensland under-12 schoolgirls carnival in Mackay.
He was the only Sunshine Coast referee to be invited and was one of only nine chosen from all over Queensland.
Not just a physical job
Bailey has weekly training sessions with lots of running and fitness, but being a good referee requires more than just physical training.
“We do a lot of fitness and then memory drills, making decisions when they ask us questions under fatigue,” he says.
It can be intimidating for referees when the crowd disagrees with a decision on the field, but Bailey takes this all in his stride.
“If they do yell out, you just forget it and move on,” he says. “You’ve just got to move on from it and get the rest of the game right.”
Catching up in the mum taxi
Bailey’s mum, Rebecca, gets to all his games and says him being in the Sunshine Coast referee development squad has helped drive his passion and given him a lot of opportunity.
“There’s a lot of rule revisions in the car,” she says. “In the mum taxi!”
Bailey is making some serious decisions about where he wants to end up.
“I did play this season but next year I probably won’t,” he says. “I just want to focus on my refereeing and my studies.”
“I want to go to the NRL. It would be fun as!”