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Veteran referee calls time after decorated career

NSWRL touch judge Jimmy Oliveira has decided to hang up the whistle after a decorated career that included 455 games.

Oliveira celebrated his 450th game when he controlled the Jersey Flegg Cup match between Parramatta Eels and St George Illawarra Dragons on May 15 before NSWRL competitions were suspended and later abandoned over the COVID-19 outbreak.

NSWRL Referees High Performance Manager Stuart Raper praised Oliveira’s passion for the development of referees at all levels of the game, from community through to high performance.

“Jimmy has been a valuable member of the high-performance unit for a number of years sharing his experiences in the game and assisting our younger referees,” Raper said.

“He never complained about an appointment knowing that he was always helping the cause, which I think are admirable qualities.”

Oliveira has spent much of his career in the NSW Cup whilst also juggling a full-time job as a real estate agent and keeping up with his duties as a father.

It was common sight at referees training at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence to see Oliveira turn up with only five minutes to get ready.

“Believe it or not, the job that makes me late to training is being a dad,” Oliveira said.

“My wife works full-time. I was always rushing to pick the kids up from day care, drop them at my mums and then race into training.”

Having been in the squad since 2007, Oliveira will hang up the whistle having committed much of his years to the touch line in the NSW Cup. However, he claims he is not finished with refereeing just yet after committing to assist up and coming officials in the squad.

“I was more than happy to come back down into grades and help the younger referees, I really enjoy it,” Oliveira said.

“I found a new enjoyment in footy when I wasn’t focused on getting to the top but focused on being part of the journey for the next generation of referees.

Oliveira will never forget the day when his wife gave birth to their second child and he still performed his duties with back-to-back games that afternoon.

“My wife gave birth to my boy July 2019, he came flying out in 16 mins and I looked at her and asked, ‘How are you feeling?’ and she goes, “I am just really tired.’

“I said, ‘Okay, well I called Stuart (Raper) and he said, “Is there any way you can cover your games?’ and I said, ‘Well, I probably could’ so I did the double up Sydney Shield into Ron Massey Cup of the same day.”

“Probably one of the standout things firstly as it was the morning my son was born, but also it was probably the best I have ever felt out on the field, the adrenaline, the rush, and the pride I had.”

Completing 14 seasons, Oliveira says he has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the game.

“That is the main reason I have stayed around, I leave with fantastic memories, some great stories and some great friendships, and I have had a great time over the years,” Oliveira said

“The greatest ride I have ever been on other than being a dad, in my life is footy, they’re like my second family.”