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Eleven Year Old Whistle Blower at Masters Games Competition

Eleven Year Old Whistle Blower at Masters Games Touch Competition

When the two teams in the 50yrs + Touch Final took the field at the New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin, they loomed head and shoulders over their referee, 11 year old Michael Buttery.

Michael’s mum Alex is the organiser of the touch competition at the Games and both she and husband Simon are also touch referees. Simon Buttery says he loves the juxtaposition of men in their 50’s and 60’s on the field with an 11 year old running around telling them what to do. As for his plucky son he’s not prepared to put up with any nonsense.

“Because I’m young some players think they don’t have to listen to me, that they know better. I try to shut it out but if it gets too much I send them off. I haven’t had to at the Masters Games though. When it comes to the rules of the game the basics are really easy but when you get down to the nitty gritty it can be complicated and sometimes mistakes are made, but we are all human and we can all make mistakes.”

”I really enjoy it when players thank you after the match and during the game you can have a bit of a joke with them.”

Alex Buttery says that Otago Touch is nurturing five young referees all under the age of fourteen. One 16 year old referee, Jayden Hollander, has been refereeing since he was 8yrs old.

Michael Buttery’s dream is to referee a World Cup final, he thinks that would be ‘honourable’ and he’s certainly got age on his side to achieve his goal.

“I just need to build up speed but I could get there in five years’ time.”


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