What we did

In an effort to further embody principles of fairness, respect, and positive player behaviour within a contemporary learning model, we have transformed our officials training from a restrictive instructor-led model to an inclusive, instructor-assisted format.

The new training is delivered online and then mentored on field. It is based on the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) development plan and is underpinned by the ASC’s Officiating General Principles and VET officiating course specifications.

The course has been designed to be fully interactive and supported by interactive rule books containing multimedia. It is available wherever there is internet access and has been tailored according to contemporary learning principles, allowing participants to learn at their own pace.

Modules cover officiating skills, rules and working on field. They are focussed on player safety and include diversity and inclusion, and training on prevention of sexual harassment.

Using this new approach, we have begun to standardise our officiating basic instruction across Australia, allowing better interchange between the states. We have also used the training program as a basis for a player introduction and safety program.

Our aim is to use the success of the officiating training programs to develop training for officiating team leaders, and an advanced course for potential national and international team leaders, and even export the program to Oceania and beyond.

Why we did it

Gridiron is a sport where all on-field players can be legally in contact, not just those around the ball. As a result, the sport requires larger and effective officiating teams than those found in many other sports.

Our new training regime emerged from a 2015 survey of the Australian gridiron community in which we specifically asked people to identify their interest in becoming officials and how they wanted to learn.

In response to the survey results, we examined the Australian and United Kingdom vocational education and training models to ensure that we included all appropriate and contemporary information and teaching approaches.

Around the same time we had been reviewing our association’s code of conduct and determined that without effective training, it was not enforceable. Subsequently, we also incorporated issues around the code of conduct into the new training model.

We needed to engage with a new generation of officials using online services, we needed to give them the tools to train and to engage; when and where they have the time and inclination.

We focussed on a Basic Officiating Course targeted at Community Officiating and a complementary upgrade course to a Level 1 Basic Gridiron Officials qualification. The online program equips the student to go on-field where we mentor and guide them through game experience.

How we know it worked

The overall response has been very positive, and has easily outweighed any negative response. This positive response includes new officials, players, Coaches and the playing leagues. Gridiron Australia, has been so pleased with the feedback that they have funded for a second year and increased funding.

In summary, we have

  • More individuals starting with the basics of officiating and improved relations between players, coaches and officials.
  • Over 250 registered students of which 25% have completed the Community Level courses and another 23% have partially completed them. This is a great boost to Junior and Club football throughout Australia.
  • Growth in Level 1 officials – these are people who have gone beyond the basics and have committed to the complete Basic Course. This includes youth, women and experienced players which is important for the future.

We are now working on the next stages developing

  • An Advanced course to provide a continuous improvement path for all officials, including personal development, extra training materials and mentoring.
  • A Referee training package for those officials who chose to take the leadership position and run the games.
  • International interest in the training program, in Europe and South Pacific region.


Web: https://facebook.com/aus.gridiron.officials