Nelson Bay touch football referees to officiate at 2024 Touch Football World Cup

Anna Bay’s John Clark (left), Sam Clark and Alec Clark are three of Australia’s finest touch football referees.

WHEN Anna Bay’s decorated touch football referee John Clark asks for performance feedback from his family there is every indication he will savour the reply.

The highly regarded official from Nelson Bay Touch Football Association (NBTFA) has two ideal companions to confide in – his sports loving wife Sam and 24-year-old son Alec who are prominent referees in their own right.

Sam was ranked the world’s best female touch football referee between 2011 and 2015 while Alec is rated one of the top five male officials in the country and both keep John, a former Australian winger and current international referee, well grounded.

In a proud moment for the family, John and Alec were recently named as two of Australia’s 83 referees to officiate at this year’s Touch Football World Cup at Nottingham, England in July.

They will be joined by Port Stephens duo John Frost, 69, of Nelson Bay and 21-year-old Cooper Jones of Taylors Beach giving NBTFA a contingent of four officials at the prestigious international event.

For father John and son Alec it will be a second World Cup campaign after participating as referees at the 2019 edition in Malaysia – just ten months after earning their Level 6 black badges.

56-year-old John, now rated one of the finest referees in world touch football, was rewarded for his polished displays with the whistle by officiating the Over 40s Mens final between Australia and New Zealand.

In an odd twist, the appointment turned the clock back eight years for John after he represented Australia as a winger in the Over 40 Men’s final against the Kiwis at the 2011 World Cup event in Scotland.

John and Alec had tuned up for the touch football extravaganza by officiating together at the 2018 Youth World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

While growing up in Coffs Harbour, versatile John was a talented rugby fullback in his youth before focusing on touch football and showing tons of ability as a winger in the Port Macquarie, Canberra, Newcastle and Nelson Bay Touch Football Associations.

His rise to international status as a referee over the past nine years has been swift with son Alec’s achievements just as impressive.

In the cooler months Alec juggles his touch football commitments with playing AFL for the Nelson Bay Marlins club, where he has carved out a promising career as a dynamic centre-back in the Central Coast Hunter AFL competition.

There is another female in the Clark household with a firm grasp on touch football.

Following in the family footsteps is twenty two year old Erin, a talented link player with the Newcastle representative team and straight from the Nelson Bay Junior ranks who displays the competitive traits of her high-achieving parents and elder sibling.

By Chris KARAS

Prominent Nelson Bay referees John Frost, John Clark and son Alec Clark will represent Australia at the Touch Football World Cup in England during July.

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