Refereeing brings renewed focus for teenager
FOOTBALL: Becoming a referee has not only allowed Blake Ashton to see a different side to the game he loves, but also grow in confidence and mature as a young man.
Alongside his father John, the 14-year-old decided to pick up the whistle and cards six months ago and impressed so much he was selected by Football Queensland to officiate at the recent Queensland School Sport 10-12 Years Football State Championships.
The Father and son combination referee games in the Toowoomba Football League and it's not uncommon for one to be in control while the other runs the line in the same match.
Blake also plays for the Gatton Redbacks and, inspired by superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimović, has his heart set on going professional.
John, who used to pull on the boots for the Redbacks himself, said he had seen a marked changed in his son since he took up refereeing, including being more focused at school.
"We started having some issues with Blake (last year) and decided team sport would be really good for him,” John said.
That's when Blake and John were approached to start officiating. It wasn't long before John was taking control of Senior Women's fixtures and Blake serving as an assistant ref up to Championship Men level.
"His mum and I have been extremely proud of how far he's come in such a short period of time,” John said.
TFL referee mentor Tim Logan said Blake's selection to officiate at the state titles was recognition of his hard work and commitment.
"There's probably not too many young referees that in their first year get to go away to these tournaments. The advice he's being given he takes and implements it,” Logan said.
"He's been identified that he's doing what he's been told to do.
"If he wasn't doing that sort of stuff, then he wouldn't be getting the recognition that he's gotten.”
He said referees, who can start as young as 13, learnt more than just the rulebook.
"They learn a bit more discipline, a bit more confidence and that sort of thing,” he said.
"A lot of the young fellas that we get, when you first meet them they're all timid and quiet but half way through the season they've gotten to know you and they'll joke around with you and they're more confident.”