NSWFRA President Scott Kidson has today written to all 16 clubs competing in Football NSW's Premier League One and Two competitions calling on them ensure new referees experience a safe and supportive environment in the 2018/19 season.

The NSWFRA has 21 new referees who will be undertaking their first season of futsal in the 2018/19 competition. These referees are all experienced football match officials and will be learning the technical differences of the indoor game throughout the opening weeks of the competition.

"Following the outcomes of the Futsal Competitions Review undertaken by Football NSW earlier this year the we made a number of changes to the NSWFRA we would be structuring its referee panels for representative level futsal," Kidson said.

In preparing for the newly formatted Futsal Premier League competitions the NSWFRA undertook analysis of its refereeing ranks over previous seasons. A key finding was a strong lack of representation of referees under 18 years of age. In fact last season for example only eleven of our referees in the Futsal Premier Leagues competitions were in this age bracket.

"To address this issue we have instituted a Junior Refereeing Scholarship this season where new referees under the age of 18 years who officiate in the Futsal Premier Leagues have received their membership and accreditation free of charge. This was accompanied by a recruitment drive with a particular focus on members of Football NSW’s Referee Development Program who officiate on the youth age groups of the National Premier Leagues football competitions."

In the letter to all 16 futsal clubs Kidson has called on club representatives to ensure match day venues are appropriately managed and take the experience of new referees into account.

"Like the players who make up the majority of your clubs referees under the age of 18 years are an important demographic for us. Youth development is an important aspect of refereeing and it is something as we are committed to as a refereeing body," the letter to the clubs says.

"To support these new referees we have also increased our coaching and support this season. We have a Coaches Panel of 13 dedicated referee assessors and a number of our more senior referees will also be assisting in efforts to monitor our new referees this season. We are also training on a weekly basis and will be utilising this time to accelerate the development of our new officials.

"With so many new referees this season you will all be seeing them on your clubs’ fixtures from the very first match day this coming weekend. I ask you be mindful of the fact they are both young and relatively inexperienced.

"I request you ensure your coaches, managers and spectators act towards our young referees in a manner they would expect others to treat their own children. Young referees, like young players, are an important part of the future of our sport and if we fail to retain them this will be its detriment."

The Football NSW Futsal Premier Leagues kick off this Saturday 29 September across Sydney.