TFA Volunteer Of The Year Award 5 Web Hero (1)

Victor Baptista’s involvement in Touch Football is extensive. After coming to the realisation his playing abilities might not be where he hoped, Victor has focused on giving back to the sport through refereeing, developing the next generation and helping Western Suburbs Touch succeed. Skills he is very good at!

Victor is extremely passionate about the sport and the important role referees play. When it comes to refereeing, there aren’t many roles Victor hasn’t held. An extremely accomplished referee in his own right (Victor will officiate at the Touch World Cup in England later this year) he has been instrumental in introducing new referees to the sport, mentoring them and passing on his knowledge, acquired over his decades worth of experience.

As our Bristol Volunteer of the Month for March, we spoke with Victor about his journey into the sport and transition into refereeing, his efforts to grow and mentor new referees and some of his proudest achievements along the way.

Can you tell us how you became involved in Touch Football?

My life in Touch Football began as a player in a social competition at Liverpool Touch Association in 1999. Whilst I really enjoyed playing Touch as difficult as it was to admit, it quickly became apparent that I was overly competitive, a sore loser and lacked playing ability. This revelation forced me to look at other ways to be involved in the sport and that’s when I started refereeing. I began refereeing the matches before and after the one I was playing in which certainly helped fund my Uni lifestyle. As I progressed through the referee levels, I quickly realised I was a better referee than I was player, soturned my attention to officiating. After many years at Liverpool Touch, I made the move to Canterbury Touch and moved once again to Wests Touch where I continue to be involved. So, after tapping off as a player, my involvement has expanded to include refereeing, holding positions of Referee Director, Regional Referee Director, NSWTA Referee Leadership Group Member, NSW Junior Referee Panel, Gear Steward, Co-Marketing Coordinator and Vice President of Wests Touch– and I love every aspect!

What do you enjoy/love the most about Touch Football? 

I love the accessibility Touch Footy offers to individuals and the community. It is one of very few sports that can cater to everyone – all genders, ages, fitness levels and abilities are welcome. The sport also caters to people with different levels of commitments - If you’ve got a family and are looking to play once a week in a social/fitness capacity, then there’s a place for you, or if you want to train and play 3 times a week, that’s also an option. It really is the sport for all!

I also love the friendships you make through Touch Football. I’ve encountered so many people that I wouldn’t have otherwise through my everyday life. For example, my social team is made up of scientists, bankers, medical professionals, sound engineers and event managers and we’ve all become great mates. It’s very much a mixed bag of people who play which speaks to its accessibility and the fact there is no stereotypes within the sport.

You wear many hats? What element do you enjoy the most? 

I love coaching referees! I’ve mentored a lot of referees from a young age and to see them grow-up and build their confidence is hugely rewarding. I truly believe refereeing teaches you many life skills– to make decisions when under pressure and have the conviction to stick to those decisions. It showcourage to do these especially at an early age or start to ones refereeing career. And yes, there may be a wrong decision here and there, but to own up to those errors in order to learn and get better builds character.

My refereeing days are starting to come full circle though as I’m starting to train the trainer. These once young referees in my team are now in a position to take on greater responsibility and increase their involvement, so it’s been hugely rewarding to pass-on some of the know-how I’ve obtained over the years and to see these referees take over the reins or start their own team. 

My administrative cap is more of an interest at this stage. I’ve got one eye on the future for when my body will likely let me down, but I’d still love to stay involved in some capacity.

CH 20240218 Nswsouthjsc 24 (1)
What is your favourite memory or moment in the game? 

My World Cup refereeing debut in 2015 was very special. The 2015 Touch World Cup was held in Australia, so I was lucky enough to have my family there watching on which was an incredibly proud moment.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to referee with my son. He was 2 years old when I became a Referee Director, so he grew up with all the guys that he now referees with. It’s great to have him involved in the sport and the opportunity to referee together was extremely special. He’s even turning down his mates’ birthdays to referee (!!!) now so it’s great to see his love for the sport grow.

VOM March 2024
What have been the biggest advancements in the sport in your opinion?

It’s hard to look past the speed of the game. I think there are a mountain of reasons for this – players are smarter & playing to their strengths more, the requirement for defenders to be 7m back rather than 5m has allowed the attacking team to gain a head of steam and the fitness of players has all played a big part in making the game faster and more appealing.

There are also lots of people now who are ‘Touch Football Players’ first and foremost who train and prepare specifically for the sport, as opposed to a few years ago when Touch Footy was people’s second or third sport of choice, which has also made a huge difference.

The other advancement has been through the technological introductions into the sport. Broadcast has opened up the sport to allow anyone to tune-in and enjoy. It’s significantly increased the professionalism and perception of the game- I’ve heard many people say they’ve watched events on Kayo.

Technology has also helped with the coaching of players and referees. Whether it’s using a drone or watching broadcast, it’s been hugely beneficial to allow coaches to see the game from different angles. I’ve even caught referees watching their games back on Kayo to see how they can improve – now that’s dedication!

Thanks Victor, it was great to chat with you and congratulations on your recognition again. We appreciate your significant contribution to our sport.

Victor is now eligible for the Bristol Volunteer of the Year Award.

To nominate a worthy individual, click here.

DON’T FORGET – All Touch Footy participants are entitled to 15-20% OFF Bristol Paint products.  Download your exclusive discount card on our website, here.

Principal Partner

Major Partners

Official Partners

Government Partners