Referee in Focus – Darius Turner

Darius Turner is a current F-League referee and has been a FIFA listed Futsal referee since 2013. Darius has recently been promoted to the AFC Futsal Referees Panel and he takes time to share some of his insights on being an elite Futsal referee.

How did you become involved in refereeing?

I first started refereeing junior football games when I was about 8 years old, which I would do after I had played my game. I took up Futsal refereeing when I was 15, having been encouraged by an older referee who went to my school. I sat the Futsal referees course with a good friend and have never looked back.

Can you describe a week in the life of a Futsal referee?

Between the national F-League and State League there are competitions for the full calendar year. As an elite Futsal Referee this means being available for matches most weekends. In addition to matches, and on top of full time work, I like to train 5 – 6 times a week. Training involves running, gym sessions and futsal specific training. As an AFC Futsal referee, regular fitness testing is mandatory, so a lot of my training is geared towards this. In addition to maintaining fitness, I review videos of matches, stay up to date on the Laws of the Game and watch other referees in order to continue to improve as a referee.

What do you do to keep a balance between your personal, professional and refereeing life?

Keeping a balance between futsal, work, university, social and family life can be a very real challenge. As an elite Futsal Referee I am often required to travel interstate or overseas and I am very fortunate to have an understanding wife who looks after our baby son, Charlie, while I am away. Being away from family and missing social events is part of being an Elite Futsal Referee. I find the best way to manage the sacrifices and maintain a balanced life is to keep perspective, and often it is family and friends that help me do this. It is also very important to be organised and have good time management skills. My advice to aspiring referees would be to try and maintain a balanced life as best you can as it will help you enjoy the rewards in all areas of your life which is important.    

How do you keep focused during a match and not let emotions influence decisions?

Staying calm is an essential part of being a good referee. I have put a lot of work into this area of my game in recent years and find that being relaxed helps my decision making. This is easier said than done, and in a big moment in a match I think that experience comes into play. It is important to enjoy refereeing and when you have a clear head you can stay calm even when a heated situation arises.

In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in Futsal in recent years?

For Futsal, the biggest change in Australia has been the introduction of the F League. Having a dedicated National League has seen the standard increase for Futsal in Australia. This brings with it opportunities for referees, and many young, aspiring referees have now had the opportunity to travel interstate to gain experience in the National League. In time, the F League will continue to improve, which will give referees greater exposure to high level matches. The F League has created a genuine pathway for Futsal referees in Australia and I’m sure this will mean a better standard of refereeing as well as more opportunities for referees at a National level.

What is the key to building positive relationships with players and coaches?
It is important to show respect to players and managers and always be genuine. I am a strong believer in greeting people with a smile and always being polite when talking to players and managers. This is no different to day to day life, and the philosophy is pretty simple, if you treat people well they well do the same to you. Of course, during a match there are times when you need to be serious, but players and managers understand this and will accept your decision if you have built a good relationship.

What do you consider to be the most important characteristic of an elite referee?

For me, there are many characteristics required to be an elite referee. If I had to choose one, it would be dedication. The only way to make it to the top level is to be dedicated and committed, and this is something you must maintain if you want to stay at the top.

What match or moment stands out as a highlight in your refereeing career?

My career highlight to date was being promoted to the AFC Futsal Referees Panel in October 2015. Other great experiences include the OFC Futsal Invitational in 2013 and the Trans-Tasman and Commonwealth Cups, all of which took place in New Zealand. As far as matches go, the 2009 Men’s Final at the FFA National Championships between NSW and the ACT will always stand out as a classic match for me. All of these highlights have involved great experiences with other referees, and to me, the many friendships I have made with other referees from all over the world is certainly a highlight in itself.