Last week, 12-year-old Archie Redford took his passion for rugby to a new level as he took to the field as a referee which has given him a taste of what he hopes will be a long career in the sport.
From his hometown of Halifax, Archie’s first game with the whistle saw him oversee a match between his home team of Elland against their local rivals Emley.
Having been brought up around the club with his Dad the club’s chairman, and his mum Gemma the child welfare officer, volunteering his time to the sport was encouraged, with Archie running touch and helping out around the club whenever he could.
Archie, who also plays for the U13’s team, said: “I’ve always been inspired by the referees out on the pitch and watching the professionals in the Super League.
“I really wanted to see the game from their perspective so I could understand it a lot more. It was just a great opportunity to go out there and give it my all.”
Due to his age, Archie is restricted to refereeing games with players younger than himself, however he hopes this will be the start of many more games behind the whistle, with dreams of making it all the way to overseeing the Challenge Cup final.
About his first game, Archie said; “The night before I was really nervous. I couldn’t get to sleep because I was thinking about missing a decision. But the next day I just I wanted to own it.”
Although a 12-year-old volunteering his leisure time is not the norm, it was a natural step for Archie with the rest of his family so heavily involved with his local club.
“We all volunteer our time to the sport, and Archie’s got his own way to support the club,” says his mum Gemma. “
“I think he’s seen how much we give, and he’s always wanted to get involved, whether holding a tackle bag, when we were allowed to tackle bags, for the little ones; carrying the water on or running the line for open age, he’s always wanted to be involved.”
Archie plays both league and union, and hopes one day to become either a player, or a professional referee. To help him on his journey, the team at ACME Whistles are linking Archie to referees at the top of the sport in both codes to help inspire and give him advice for his future career.
Ben McFarlane at ACME Whistles said: “Archie is a truly inspiring young man. Not only has he given up much of his time to rugby at such a young age, but he also talks so passionately about the sport and helping others.
“he least we could do is help give Archie the chance to talk to those at the top of the game to nurture his passion. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot more of Archie in years to come.”
The next phase of developing his referring skills will be to get more experience behind the whistle developing through the age-groups and onto stricter rules.
Archie adds; “I’m not totally sure exactly what is next for me, but I know I just want to referee. I hope that other young referees like me will also be inspired to pick up the whistle.”
Anyone looking develop skills as a referee should visit the RFL website.