NSW based FIFA Futsal Ref Scott Kidson to officiate at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand
While Australia’s futsal community eagerly watches the Futsalroos prepare to take the stage at this year’s FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand, there is another Australian representative quietly preparing for the tournament, but in a very different way.
The New South Wales Futsal Referees Association’s (NSWFRA) Scott Kidson, 39, is one of 38 referees selected to officiate at this year’s tournament. Consistently considered one of Asia’s best referees over the past four years, Kidson will be officiating at a Futsal World Cup for the second time in November and is one of only nine referees at the tournament who will do so.
A member of the FIFA Panel of Men’s Futsal Referees since 2007, this will be his 15th international tournament, however while his experience at international level is certainly vast there is nothing routine about his appointment.
“For every high level futsal player, the dream of course is to represent your country at a World Cup,” Kidson says. “For a referee it’s no different – and like for a player, it is hard work with ups and downs, and not everybody makes it. So to be going to a second World Cup is an immense achievement for me.”
A kid who was nuts about football, playing futsal was a natural progression after his winter seasons had finished. At age 20 Kidson joined his local Futsal State League team in 1993 and from there progressed to selection for NSW representative teams. While he enjoyed a certain level of success in the outdoor game, he stopped playing football in 1997 to concentrate entirely on futsal and was rewarded by gaining a place in the national team under Jim Roberts in 1999.
“To me the outdoor game was not as exciting as its little brother,” Kidson says. “I was fortunate enough to travel with the Futsalroos to play against Portugal in Porto in 1999.”
After four Australian caps and seven tournaments as a senior representative player for NSW Kidson decided the time was right to do something a bit different. While many elite level players retire to begin coaching, Kidson chose to pick up a whistle instead.
“My ability to compete as a player at the elite level was waning, but my competitive drive was still there,” Kidson says. “Having gained accreditation in 2001, I knew there were opportunities for me to have a career as a referee so after the 2004 National Championships; I made the move across to refereeing full-time.”
Four years later, in his second year as an international referee, Kidson found himself standing in the player’s race at the Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janerio about to walk out onto the pitch as referee for the third place play off between powerhouses Italy and Russia at the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
“At international tournaments the original pool of referees is usually cut down as the stages progress and all of a sudden I found myself in the group of referees who would see out the final matches of the 2008 World Cup,” Kidson says. “To be in the last ten out of 32 that originally started was fantastic and to finish up as referee on that third place playoff match was the best moment of my career.”
Having hit the heights of such a successful tournament four years ago is both a blessing and a curse for Kidson in his preparation for this year’s tournament. While he is expecting to perform well he is certainly not taking anything for granted.
“Of course I’d love to get myself to the last stages of the tournament again like I did in Brazil,” Kidson says. “However, as much as it is a slight cliché, the nature of tournaments is hugely unpredictable. You just have to go out there and take one match at a time and treat it mentally as if you are refereeing a final.”
“There are so many good referees from all across the world with so much experience who will be there so it’s just a case of getting on with the job and refereeing every single match I get to the very best of my ability.”
While he enjoyed a somewhat meteoric rise to the top of the refereeing ranks in Australia, Kidson sees the pathway that is now developing for up and coming futsal referees as hugely positive, with a bright future ahead.
“The systems in place and the general ability of our top referees is almost incomparable to when I became an international referee five years ago,” Kidson says. “There’s more training, especially for the referees here in NSW and a higher standard of competitions and more young referees who are committed and really want to improve their refereeing.”
Kidson sees the introduction of the hummel F-League in 2012 played under full international conditions as huge step for referee development.
“A true national competition that replicates how the game is played at international tournaments is the ultimate chance for our next generation of international referees to test themselves,” Kidson says. “The 2012 hummel F-League was great and I hope it will be back bigger and better next year.”
“In the meantime I’d of course love to see the various state-based futsal competitions move in the same direction. The Melbourne Futsal League was run under international conditions this year and the NSWFRA would like to see the same thing happen with the NSW Premier League as well.”
Kidson believes as the sport continues to grow there is a great future for futsal referees in Australia. “There are only going to be more and more opportunities for referees as the sport grows its profile,” Kidson says.
“There are a number of futsal referee who currently enjoy excellent dual-refereeing careers with football and futsal, even some who officiate in the A-League,” Kidson says. So I’d really encourage anyone who has had half a thought of joining us, to come and do a course and get involved.