Like Father, Like Daughter As Junior Refs Program Launches
By Rebecca Brebner
Every weekend, without fail, Owen Harvey can be found either running refereeing senior games or watching over his 13-year-old daughter, Chloe, who’s training to follow in his footsteps.
Owen has recently taken on the responsibility of launching a junior referees development program. Coordinated through Canterbury Rugby League, the development program is still in its infancy and is based at Canterbury Park on Saturday mornings.
The initiative was established to refine the skills of the up-and-coming referees, and to also help overcome the issue of having a scarce supply of experienced referees in the region.
Owen decided that since he was spending so much time with Chloe working on her development, he may as well oversee the other junior referees. He’s aiming to establish a core group of aspiring referees, and has already had interest from several Riccarton boys aged between 10 and 14 years old.
According to Owen, the process is lengthy as it takes a while to learn all the tricks of the trade.
“It may take me the rest of the season just to get my feet into it, then I’ll be looking into getting these boys used to it and hope to hit full speed ahead next year,” the experienced referee says.
In the meantime, Chloe is loving the opportunity of getting her hands on the whistle. Owen says it’s not surprising she’s progressed so quickly into it.
“She’s been watching me run around reffing my games her whole life,” he explains.
Chloe, one of the only females controlling league games in Canterbury, believes the program is an excellent incentive for more young blood to train up, be inspired and get involved with the Canterbury Rugby League community.
She believes there is no downside to putting your hand up to be a part of the program.
“It’s heaps of fun, really good exercise and hanging with the kids is the best part of all,” Chloe says.
With the help of her father, Chloe’s entering her 10th week of training and gaining the much-needed confidence to referee at a higher level.
“Dad and I have just been doing different drills and online courses.”
She believes that, “with Dad’s help I hope to participate in the national games and maybe ref overseas one day.”
As expected, Owen is backing her 100 percent of the way.
“She’s got something to strive for. I’ve told her, if she sticks with it, by the time she’s old enough to play, she won’t be playing she’ll instead have a career in refereeing”.
Owen says it’s all still a new learning curve for him. However, he insists that the program doesn’t have to be solely for junior referees – it can also include parents who are continuously on the sideline and want to increase their knowledge of the game.
Both Chloe and Owen believe that more girls need to get involved. Instead of relying on others to lead the way, they are now playing a key role in promoting refereeing in the region. In their spare time, the father-daughter duo go through various online drills, and courses to enhance their skillsets.
However, both agree that it has all been worth it for the love of the game.
“The Canterbury women involved with league love seeing her down there on a Sunday leading the way,” Owen enthuses.
For those who enjoy rugby league and would love the opportunity to be a part of the program, feel free to contact Owen Harvey on 021 176 7064.