TOM Manton can spend up to 12 hours on a soccer field a weekend and never get a kick, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
And the 19-year-old has urged others to follow his footsteps into the refereeing ranks at Football Wagga search desperately for more whistle blowers to officiate their expanding league.
While his fellow university classmates are partying and living the good life, the teaching student can help officiate up to eight games a weekend, culminating in Pascoe Cup first grade fixtures on Sunday afternoon.
He also manages to squeeze in a run with Lake Albert's fourth grade side.
"It's pretty tiring by the end of it, that's for sure," Manton said.
"When I was younger my senior coaches were hoping to put me up to first grade, but as the years went on I decided refereeing was more the thing for me.
"It was a difficult decision but I saw that now more than ever, there's pathways to progress your refereeing in Wagga.
Manton began refereeing when he was 15 and controlled a handful of Pascoe Cup games late last season.
He officiated Saturday's Wagga United-Henwood Park clash, arguably the match of the round, and has his sights set on eventually making the A-League.
He was recently invited to Football NSW's referee development program in Sydney and urged other keen to have an involvement in the sport to pick up the whistle.
"The assistant referees aren't so much the issue, it's more (finding) centre referees good enough to do reserve and first grade men," Manton said.
"We have maybe five or six Pascoe (Cup) centres and with five games a week, someone usually does two games a weekend with someone away.
"It would definitely mean I wouldn't be as tired by the end of the weekend."
Manton said players have to play their part in ensuring young referees don't become discouraged by abuse.
"It does certainly contribute to referees leaving, especially when they get to around 17 or 18 years old and start doing senior games," Manton said.
"All it can take is one game and they don't want to referee again, it can be a deterrent."
Football Wagga referees manager Jason McKenzie said the signs are promising the penny is dropping for players.
"The start of last year we were averaging six yellow cards (a week) for referee dissent, by we probably gave out six for the whole last month," McKenzie said.
"The clubs have been progressively improving their attitude towards referees,and that allows us to help them further to put the likes of Tom Manton into the centre of first grade matches.
"Even the experienced players, in the over 35s comp, I'd invite them to (take up refereeing) to earn a bit of pocket money and stay in the game."