Ipswich ref ready for World Cup
WHEN you’re as dedicated as Brad Smith, there’s only one place to spend your 38th birthday – refereeing.
That was the case on Wednesday night when the World Cup-bound Ipswich ref was controlling three semi-finals at One Mile.
Smith is heading off to Scotland on Friday week to officiate in his third World Cup as Australia’s fifth ranked referee.
However, he always makes time to help the Ipswich Touch Association where he is secretary and one of the loyal supporters.
As he focuses on tonight’s grand finals before heading overseas, Smith appreciates all the support he has received from his family who have helped him pursue his international dream.
“A lot of sacrifices have been made to get me to where I am,” he said.
That type of support was also evident after the January floods which swamped the Ipswich touch grounds, leaving a smelly mess of mud and debris.
“It got well into the second storey of the building,” Smith said.
“To be wiped out and absolutely lose everything . . . it was a bit heart-breaking.”
Tonight’s grand finals will celebrate a wonderful recovery after the association lost junior playing shirts, fridges, BBQs, tent shades, playing and administrative equipment.
The damage to fields and the clubhouse caused a delay to the start of the season.
However, a terrific team effort involving Ipswich City Council and supporters from the Ipswich, South West, Gold Coast and Australian touch associations cleared the debris.
They got the grounds playable again for the summer competition, which finishes tonight.
“The fields are in great condition. The building is back brand new again,” Smith said.
“We are the first sport association that was flood-affected to actually get back on our feet – back where we were.
“I just didn’t see it happening this quick. We thought it could be a year or two.
“There was just so much devastation.”
Smith praised everyone who helped restore Ipswich’s touch headquarters.
“The flood really brought a lot of people together,” he said.
“Everyone coming on board after the floods is what’s really impressed myself.
“It was a lot of hard work from the members and volunteers.
“We’ve bounced back nicely.”
Tonight’s Ipswich summer season games at One Mile:
Field 1 – SL: KOCO’s Pink v Cobras White.
F2 – SM: Koalas Blue v Cobras.
F3 – CM: Spartans v United White.
F4 – BMX: Blue Steel v Which Way.
F1 – OMX: Tigers Black v Cobras.
F2 – DM: Hammer Time v Rhondda B.
F3 – SMX: United Gold v Cunningham Clan Ent.
F1 – OM: Koalas v Cobras.
F2 – OL: Southern Storm v KOCO’s.
F3 – CL: Cobras Green v Tigers Gold.