From playing football Greg Evers has developed an international officiating career. He now works to encourage more collaboration from officials in different sports, including up and coming codes like Wheelchair Rugby League.
Greg Evers created the Sports Collaboration platform earlier this year, so he could further his mission to assist sports officials.
“My passion is to personalise officials,” says Greg.
The online platform acts as a global forum so that officials from different sporting associations can compare notes, as well as obtain more in-depth resources related to their own sport.
Greg has made his mark in Australia in the sport of American Football, as a player who went on to officiate at the local, state and international levels. In addition to gridiron, he has also followed through on his childhood involvement in soccer and rugby union, plus taken a keen interest in Wheelchair Rugby League.
Greg heard about Wheelchair Rugby League (WRL) through the current WRL head coach Brett Clark, who he met originally through playing American Football.
With his mission to “give back” by bolstering the officiating resources of some of the more niche codes, and inspired by the 2021 achievements of disability athletes, Greg was keen to learn more about WRL.
Greg was impressed by the inclusive nature of Wheelchair Rugby League teams, which consist of players of different abilities, ages and genders. He was also enthusiastic about the “awesome” example set by Rugby League in planning a World Cup event that incorporates men’s, women’s and wheelchair matches.
Sports Collaboration came on board, and has just signed as a major supporter of Wheelchair Rugby League.
In particular, Greg wants to put the spotlight on the referees and other officials who make Wheelchair Rugby League possible. “I want to highlight and celebrate officials who are able to officiate wheelchair based games – building enjoyment of the game and helping others,” says Greg.
As the Sports Collaboration website makes clear, officials deserve attention and respect. “If we don’t improve respect for officials – sports can’t be run,” says Greg. Without the officials, players would have no fair games to play or any structured competitions.
Greg has been following the fallout of Covid-19 restrictions on American Football and draws attention to the issue there where, “the number of officials in the US has dropped by 20 to 30 percent”. Sports Collaboration will keep working to support Australian sporting codes to retain their officials and not lose traction by the time competitions resume.
Whether playing or officiating, Greg says he has “a growth mindset”. One day in the future he hopes Sports Collaboration will be able to “run conferences and provide scholarships to officials”.
Greg sees the platform’s immediate role as keeping referees and other officials engaged in their sport. It could be letting them know a pathway to officiating at international games, or just providing support to an official who is happy to ref a weekly community sport game.
The online platform has great advantages. It can provide resources like rule books and videos that demonstrate the rules in action to a sportsfan with a disability in a remote Australian town who is intrigued by Wheelchair Rugby League, or a novice referee in Africa who can acquire the skills to progress.
“Without overburdening the sports associations, the platform can also help junior officials balance officiating, work and home, and boost interaction,” says Greg.
Balancing is especially important when you consider that officials, unlike elite players, have to hold down a job as well. Greg works in his own IT company and he and his wife have five children, so the family are very familiar with balancing. On the plus side, with their eldest children starting to learn the ropes, Greg has been able to show them the benefits of being a referee.
“Refereeing helps you to develop life skills such as conflict resolution.” Greg adds, “It puts you in great stead for business life.”
You can learn more about Sports Collaboration here.