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Tyrrell reaches world stage as referee

EYES ON THE BALL: Karl Tyrrell officiating a world league game earlier this month. PHOTO: supplied.
EYES ON THE BALL: Karl Tyrrell officiating a world league game earlier this month. PHOTO: supplied.

By Kyle Knowles, reporting for the Christchurch Mail

Christchurch man Karl Tyrrell is the first Kiwi to referee at an indoor volleyball world championships in 20 years.

Tyrrell refereed at the U20 Women’s World Championship in the Czech Republic and qualifying events in Australia and China last year.

In China, he was selected to referee the final match of the tournament between the fifth-ranked Chinese and 10th- ranked South Korean women’s teams.

Being the first New Zealander to referee at a  world championship in 20 years felt good. Tyrell said it was “recognition of all the hard work I’ve put in over the years”, which included studying the rules closely.

He was first a player who then took up the job of referee. Now 45, he said students often had to referee their own games at school, which is where he started.

“I did the worst job you could possibly imagine and had absolutely no idea what I was doing.”

After a period in the army, Tyrrell stopped playing and started to take refereeing more seriously. He was spotted at the old Inter-Provincial Championships by a retired referee and told that he had the right stuff to be an international official . Until then, he did not know there was a pathway from local volleyball in Christchurch to international games.

After an international refereeing course in Thailand in 2001 he refereed at the Asian Junior Women’s Championship in Vietnam the following year.  He continued to climb the ranks, reaching his first world championships last year.

The world champs were his first global competition.

“It would be described as a business trip. You sort of see from the hotel to the stadium and back again, but you get to work with officials from all over the world which is exciting.”

The Olympics  are “a dream but a bit far off”. He would rather set a realistic goal of being appointed to referee a World League or World Grand Prix tournament.

The toughest thing about refereeing internationally and locally, was knowing the rules inside out.

Ethan Pitt, a former Canterbury age-grade rep, said Tyrell “knows the rules so well so it is hard to argue with any call he makes”.

Tyrrell said he enjoyed bringing his international refereeing experience back to Christchurch.  In his role as Canterbury Volleyball operations manager he can pass on his experience to other referees and players.

“Guiding people through their volleyball experience is a whole lot of fun.

“Being in the background and seeing athletes at any level get out there and enjoy their sport and being part of facilitating that is fantastic.”

Tyrell continues his international refereeing this year, heading to the Asian U19 and U17 Women’s Championships in Taiwan in July and Thailand in October.