What is a Referee?

A Referee is a person who usually has a whistle and makes sure that a particular sports game is played according to the rules.

They also make sure the players maintain discipline during the game.  When there is an infringement, the Referee with blow the whistle and appropriate rules will be put in place.

A Referee will be highly knowledgeable about the sport he/she referees in.  They will know the rules inside and out. 

They will need a strong personality to maintain discipline in the teams.

Some Referees work part-time at clubs and schools.  These Referees will have a different day job to supplement their Referee income.   Other Referees are full-time professionals and referee at the top level.

In some sports, the Referee is known as the Umpire.  In both cases the job description is very similar.

  • Examples of some sports that use Referees:  Rugby, Boxing and Soccer
  • Examples of some sports that use Umpires:  Cricket, Baseball and Hockey

What does a Referee do?

  • making sure the rules are followed throughout the game
  • ensuring that both teams are treated fairly
  • disciplining unruly players
  • remaining impartial (unbiased) throughout the game
  • being a positive role model for players
  • keeping up to date with rules and regulation changes

Are you … ?

  • 100% passionate about a specific sport?
  • observant?
  • unbiased (fair)?
  • healthy and fit?
  • a peoples’ person?
  • decisive?
  • confident?

How do I become a Referee?

Every sport has its own rules and regulations.  Each sport also has its own requirements for Referees or Umpires.

One way to start is by becoming involved as a volunteer official at your local club.  This is one way to learn more about the sport (rules and regulations) and then move on to becoming a part-time Referee or Umpire.

Here are a few ways you could become a Referee:


3 year – National Diploma in Officiating and Coaching Sciences


Offers courses on soccer refereeing




OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER:  Sports Coach and Sports Agent 

Is becoming a Referee the right career choice for me? 

See below for more info.