What is a Game Leader and why do we need Game Leaders?

If we look at junior games in the U6-U12 age groups, each has its own specifics. The most visible of these being the different sizes of both pitches and balls. One can also mention tactics, shape, organization, the coach’s involvement, understanding of the game, and more.

Both players and spectators appreciate it when the games are led/refereed by someone who understands the rules, lets the game flow, doesn’t break the game with unnecessary stoppages, and helps players orient themselves on the field.

Game Leaders are here to help with all of that!!!

To help us create a great environment for young players, we are recruiting players and parents to become Game Leaders and Mentors. For players aged 11 to 18, you can become an accredited Game Leader and be paid for every game you lead. Parents and players over 18 can become Mentors to help support young Game Leaders as they build their skills and confidence.

If you want to become a Game Leader, click here.

Game Leader Match Rules 2024

Please note: if a Game Leader or Referee is not available for an U6-U12s match, Parents/Team Managers are required to assist with the game leading. Please have a look at this document for potential issues you may come across when you are refereeing a junior game. Additionally, Coaches should be coaching their team and not game leading; therefore, if a GL is not assigned, we would ask that you have a volunteer to be the Game Leader. Our GL courses are there to help you gain the knowledge and confidence for doing the Game Leader role.

Information for Game Leaders and Mentors:

Hello future young Game Leaders!

It’s great that you’re interested in exploring the Game Leader role. This role is an entry-level leadership pathway within our Club. It’s a terrific way to explore leadership and we will support you as you embark upon this journey.  

What is a Game Leader and why do we need them?

That’s a great question! 

A Game Leader (GL) is the trained and credentialed game official for the U6-U12 age groups, with learned skills to lead the game in a certain way. We will show you and train you in how to do this. 

GLs need to know the rules and help players during the game play by those rules. The GL is also there to give the Players words of advice while they are playing and, most importantly, the GL makes sure the game is flowing smoothly without unnecessary stoppages. In your role as a GL, we will support you each step of the way and you will have adult GL-Mentors to guide and encourage you, to help you to grow as a GL.

Youths who do the GL role are paid by our Club (U18s only). You can earn some pocket money each time you act as a GL for one of our matches. 

Come to our GL training course where you can learn how to be a great Game Leader.  Upcoming GL training course date/s will be scheduled and added to our Season Dates page.

What a Game leader needs to know and be able to do: 

  • The Rules of the game. Read them, learn them, recall them, and apply them while doing the GL role in a game. 
  • Full set of rules can be found here (4 pages) 
  • Blow the whistle (loudly!), speak loudly and clearly, and not be afraid to be heard  
  • Show and tell the kids the rules 
  • Receive and take on board feedback from GL Mentors 
  • Allow kids to play football and enjoy the game! 


The GAME LEADER role opens the door to you becoming a referee in the future. As the GL role focuses ONLY on the younger age groups (U6-U12), this is a great pathway toward refereeing and other leadership roles further down the track. 

 We’d love to have you join our Game Leader Program and learn to become a great GL, and we will support and encourage you each step of the way. 

 Sign up to our GL practical courses to become an accredited GL 

Dear Parents,  

Here is information you need to know about the role of a Game Leader (GL).  Please note that senior GLs (aged 18+) do not get paid.

Why is the role of Game Leader (GL) important?

In case of no junior GL being present for your child’s game, it has been a common habit to share the role of “a referee” for the game with the opposition. This can bring some unexpected tension and issues for the children playing and for the spectators as well. 

Having a GL is more neutral and ensures all kids are being supported and allowed to learn while playing the game. All details relating to the role of GL will be explained in our GL course.  

Who are GLs and what do they do?

  • The GL is the trained and credentialed game official for the U6-U12 age groups, who have learned skills to lead the game in a certain way. 
  • The GL knows the rules and helps players play by those rules, gives players words of advice in relation to the game, and makes sure the game is flowing smoothly without unnecessary stoppages.  
  • Full set of rules can be found here (4 pages) 
  • In case of some minor issues, such as a foul throw, the GL doesn’t need to stop the game but rather reminds the player how to behave and act while the game is flowing. 
  • Allows and encourages goalkeepers to put the ball down and play out from the back instead of simply kicking the ball. 
  • During any stoppage of the game, the GL shows not just hand signal as a referee would do, but verbally comments on what has just happened, instructing the players in the flow of the game. 

Examples may include the following: 

  • “Ball out. Orange team ball.” 
  • “That was a dangerous tackle, so the opposition is given an indirect free kick.” 
  • “Return the ball here. We will repeat the throw-in and this time do it correctly.” 
  • “Great strike, but the GK didn’t touch it so it’s a goal kick now.” 
  • “Goal kick. Attacking team, you must stay behind this line.” 

Having a Game Leader in your team ensures:

  • Coaches can coach 
  • Managers can manage 
  • Kids can enjoy  
  • Games can flow 
  • In case of any stoppages, Players receive a short explanation of what has happened and how to react. 
  • One person is leading the game with the same unbiased intentions and leadership. 

 Accredited Youth GLs can also earn some pocket money! 

Come to our GL training course where you can learn how to be a great Game Leader.  Upcoming GL training course date/s will be added to our Season Dates page on the website.

Sign up to our GL practical courses to gain experience and awareness of how to lead junior games. 

Thank you for choosing the role of Game Leader Supervisor or mentor. Without you the success of the Game Leader (GL) program is in jeopardy.

The next few paragraphs will outline what you can expect.

 Supervisor or mentor

  • They a safety net for the Game Leaders
    • Officiate in line with the rules.
    • Offer guidance in difficult situations.
    • Offer support if facing inappropriate behaviour.
    • Prevent any escalation of arguments.
    • Time the match properly
  • They need to LISTEN to the game and intervene if
    • Inappropriate language is being used towards the GL from any participants
    • Team officials do not know the ruling of the game
    • The GL is subject to any abusive behaviour

In scenarios of inappropriate behaviour from Team Officials, Spectators, or Players the mentor should intervene to address the cause of their comments –

“Hi, I am a supervisor of the game leader in action, is there anything I can help with? Can I maybe explain the rules of the game for you to better understand the call they have made?”

Any inappropriate behaviour should be reported to gameleader@balmainfootball.com.au or via the GL whatsapp group.

Our common goal is to train juniors to become Game Leaders who will be confident to enter the game as a Referee in older age groups.

Key points:

  • Have a clear understanding of the rules: Rules and tips(4 pages)
  • Attend a GL course held by BDFC during the year (requirement for becoming a supervisor or mentor)
  • The game should be as fluent as possible
  • Stoppages should be minimal
  • No spectators will feel the need to tell the GL what to do as the GL will be leading the game effectively and with clarity
  • Be able to recommend the GLs in areas where they can/need to improve
  • Be able to step in if GL is abused/heckled

Our goal is to create a positive environment for GLs so that the games for our juniors can be the best possible experience (learning and enjoyment). 

Difference between Supervisor and Mentor.

  • Supervisor is active only with their child.
  • Mentor can help other GLs during their presence on the day.


  1. Make sure Game Leader (GL) has identified you to the Team Officials (TO)
  2. Remind the GL of their duties prior game:
  3. Bibs, GK is different colour
  4. Safety – shin pads and no jewellery
  5. Remind them that substitutions are rolling during play
  6. Position yourself visibly to GL and TO

During the Game

  1. Watch and listen to the game
  2. Listen for any verbal abuse towards the GL:
  3. Watch the GL and make note of what can be done better

After the game

After the game, chat with the GL(s) about the following:

  1. GL has confirmed the score with both coaches
  2. What (if any) critical situations did the GL experience?
  3. Ask the GL to summarise their performance
    • Discuss what you have seen as a potential problem, and how you would recommend dealing with specific situations (better hand signals, faster calls, play on calls etc)
    • State the positives
      • Were they vocal, loud, clear, confident?
    • Identify negatives/improvements
      • Were they timid, shy, indecisive, ignored?
    • Summarise what can be improved for their next game
    • Remind them to re-read the rules if necessary, in order to gain better perspective and allow for learning.

End of the day

  1. Let the head mentors (email preferred) know what key points happened, so that we can ensure quality of mentoring and maintain high standard of care towards our GLs
  2. Without your feedback we may not know how to best nurture and help our GLs to progress and become more skilled and confident.

Additional information for Mentors

We would like a GL to lead multiple games during the day.

Most GLs are juniors aged 11-14. We need to be able to help them be organised, precise, and to ensure that every game is summarised, and the mentor is able to provide a de-brief for a GL after a game.

Game Leader is a leadership program and offers unique leadership experience to young children. As adults we need to make sure the experience has correct context and allow for learning = debrief, comment from perspective of an adult.

If you, as a supervisor, do not have confidence in football, we still ask you to reflect on performance of a GL in a way:

  • Did you miss any calls? Why? Because you are too far to see?
  • Do you think you have made your calls on time? Or it took you too long to make a call.
  • Did you help players who didn’t know what to do?
  • Are there any rules you didn’t know how to interpret?

If you have any questions, please ask us on gameleader@balmainfootball.com.au or via

As a Game Leader and/or Mentor you need to be aware of, and understand the need to adhere to, both the Football Canterbury Code of Conduct and FA Code of Conduct, which outline zero tolerance for any form of violence and aggression towards officials, players, and spectators. Failure to abide by these rules could result in disciplinary action and, where necessary, your duty as a Game Leader/Mentor will be reviewed.

A summary of expectations of the BDFC Game Leader program:

  • Operate within the rules and spirit of the game, and teach your players to do the same.
  • Control your temper. Verbal abuse of officials and sledging others is not acceptable or permitted.
  • Display control, respect, and professionalism to all involved with the sport. This includes opponents, coaches, officials, administrators, the media, parents, and spectators.
  • Show concern and caution toward sick and injured players.
  • Be a good sport. Recognize all good plays regardless of the participant.
  • Treat all participants in football as you like to be treated. Do not bully or take unfair advantage of other competitors, spectators, or officials.
  • Cooperate with and show respect to your Mentor and to team officials. Without them there would be no game.
  • Participate for your own enjoyment and benefit, not just to please parents and coaches.
  • Respect the rights, dignity, and worth of all participants regardless of their gender, ability, cultural background, or religion.
  • Never ridicule or yell at a junior player for making a mistake or not winning.
  • Ensure that the time players spend with you is a positive experience. All junior players are deserving of equal attention and opportunities.
  • Compliment and encourage all participants.
  • Be consistent, objective, and courteous when making decisions.
  • Condemn unsporting behaviour and promote respect for all opponents.

Game Leader Team: gameleader@balmainfootball.com.au