Jayden Kastelan took up refereeing after he was unable to play rugby league anymore due to a medical condition. Now, as he enters his 10th season with the whistle, Kastelan is encouraging others to get involved in the game that he loves.
Born with one kidney, Kastelan was never meant to play a contact sport like rugby league, but he ended up doing so until the age of nine.
“I wasn’t supposed to play at all but the kids got a little bit bigger and hit a little bit harder, so I had to stop playing and refereeing was the only other position I could have on the field,” he told the Weekender.
“I stopped playing footy when I was nine-years-old and then I had to wait until I was 14 to start refereeing. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The 23-year-old now referees the SG Ball and Harold Matthews competitions among others and is hoping, with hard work and commitment, to rise up the ranks in the sport.
The Penrith Referees’ Association are currently recruiting, with around 30 new referees needed for the upcoming junior rugby league season.
There’s no age limit and people can start getting involved from 13.
“It’s a great way to keep fit, earn yourself money and make friends all at the same time,” Kastelan said.
“We put the referees through as much training as we can so they are prepared for games and know what to expect once out on the field.”
Entering her fifth season as a whistleblower, late bloomer Megan Buckley said becoming a referee was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“An ad came up on my Facebook feed and I thought why not give it a go?” she said.
“From the very first training session, everyone was so supportive and – as a female – that was really empowering. If you ask for help, there’s always a dozen people willing to give you a hand.
“It’s much better than any other organisation I’ve been a part of.”
The Penrith Referees’ Association are running a referee’s course on Sunday, February 18 from 8.30am at BlueBet Stadium.
Chairman Gary Haines said becoming a referee is quite simple.
“There’s two parts – first you have to register and complete an online module and then the course on the 18th is the face-to-face module. Once both have been completed, you can join the association and start refereeing,” he said.
“Anyone who is 13 years and above can do it and we’ve got the best coaches within the association to help them to achieve their goals – no matter how high they are.”
Meanwhile, the association have unveiled their new kit for the upcoming season, with confirmation that 7 News is back on board as a major sponsor. The partnership with 7 News will enter its sixth year in season 2024.
To become a referee, visit www.playrugbyleague.com/referee/courses.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.