From sideline supporter to first-time referee, meet Waitemata’s Debra Barron

posted in: News, Referees

Ever wondered what it takes to go from being a supportive parent cheering on the sidelines to refereeing on the centre field?

Meet Waitemata’s Debra Barron, the football mum-turned-referee …

Main photo: Auckland’s Debra Barron … enjoying her new role as a level 1 referee.

Her journey began like many parents.

She’d spend countless hours watching her son Scott tear up the football field for Auckland club Waitemata.

But Debra Barron didn’t stop at just being a spectator. She could see the coach needed some support on game day so she decided to dive headfirst into the world of refereeing.

With no playing, coaching or refereeing experience — but armed with a determination and a thirst for knowledge — she decided to give it a go.

It wasn’t easy but after attending an introduction to referee course followed by the level 1 course and gaining experience from refereeing games, she is now confident enough to regularly hone her skills on local fields.

From cheering on the sidelines to making calls on the field, Debra Barron’s transformation is truly inspiring.

Waitemata asked her about her progression from sideline supporter to onfield official.

Can you tell us about your personal football experience?

“Mostly from watching my son play from the sidelines.”

How did it come about that you started refereeing, and how have you found it so far?

“Last season, my son moved up to 9th grade. It was a bigger field, and they started playing in positions. The coach asked if anyone else could referee so that he could be more involved during the game.

“I bravely thought I would give it a try and support my son’s team!

“I had great support from the club, found some great information and videos online.

“The first couple of games, I was nervous, but I found the parents on both teams quite helpful and supportive. and once I had a bit of experience, I really started to look forward to it and enjoy it.

“An unexpected benefit is that I have become more involved with the club.

“I really got into the FIFA Women’s World Cup last year — and I don’t normally watch any sport. Plus, I get lots more steps in on a Saturday and my fitness has improved loads.”

You have now attended the Club Referee and the Level 1 referee courses. What is the next step for you in your refereeing journey?

“I will continue to ref for my son’s team, and if anyone else needs help, I am happy to lend a hand. Since doing my Level 1 course, I have been invited by NRF to register to ref, which I haven’t done, but I might consider this in the future.”

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start refereeing?

“Yes, do it! Give it a crack; there is lots of support, and it’s a great way to get involved with the game while not being a player.”


We’re grateful to Waitemata AFC for providing this story and photograph.

Learn more about how to become a referee

NZ Football has more information about the refereeing pathway, with access to online learning tools, here >>>>

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