For most young athletes competing in sport is as exciting and rewarding as it gets, but GYS had the opportunity to speak to two DESC pupils who have taken their love for rugby one step further – by becoming referees in their spare time.
Hannah Lear, 15, and Jarrod Eglen, 17, have over 15 years of combined playing experience between them, but in recent months they’ve been taking the time to officiate touch rugby, with both feeling like it has helped them appreciate the sport more.
Hannah said: “I was inspired to become a referee when, during an [Arabian Knights] training session in January, I tore my ACl and did other damage to my knee.
“I decided to participate in the refereeing course whilst still in crutches in order to not only better develop my understanding of the game, but also to stay involved in the rugby community whilst I was out of play.”
Jarrod said: “I recently began playing touch rugby and thought that if I started to referee I would gain a better understanding of the game, rules and regulations.
“I have really enjoyed the experience and want to further my qualifications by completing my 15’s-coaching qualification.”
Both have a wealth of experience under their belts as competitors; as well as the Knights, Hannah has played for DESS, DESC and Middle East Touch, whilst Jarrod played Rugby League in Australia for three years, and now splits his time between DESC and the Dubai Hurricanes.
But they’re in agreement that refereeing has given them an entirely new outlook on the sport:
“I see it as an opportunity to get fit, and I now feel I know what it’s like from a ref’s perspective,” said Jarrod. “I feel I now have a better understanding of the roles of the sport and a greater respect for the skills that are involved to become good at it.”
Hannah said: “I believe that refereeing enables people to improve their game, as they get a better grasp of the rules – and it’s also made me appreciate how hard being a ref is!
“When playing a game you get to make subs, however the referee has to stay alert and be running for the entire game, so it’s put that into perspective for me.”
And for Jarrod, the opportunity to give back to the community makes all the effort worthwhile:
“I feel it’s rewarding because I know when I play that if there aren't enough refs I feel that things get missed due to the lack of eyes and angles,” he said. “With me now being there I hope that I can make sure that these things aren't missed.”
Despite their positive experiences, Hannah and Jarrod are amongst the few their age involved in refereeing, but they whole-heartedly urge anyone with sporting ambitions to get involved.
Hannah said: “Refereeing is an excellent way to stay fit and stay involved – even if you’re injured.
“I would definitely recommend that anyone who is keen to develop their skills and wants to stand out from the other players opts for a role as a ref, no matter the sport.”
Jarrod added: “It not only gives you greater knowledge of the roles, but also it improves your confidence as you would have to take on the responsibility.
“I recommend it for anyone trying to go further in their sports due to the knowledge and life skills you would get from it.”