A Wilmar Sugar and Renewables staffer is off to England next week to referee the world’s best touch football players.


Michael Littlefield, Engineering Superintendent at Wilmar’s Inkerman Mill in the Burdekin, is ranked as the number one referee in North Queensland and 12th in the country.

He will join 200 referees from 20 nations to referee the 2024 Touch Football World Cup at Nottingham from 15 to 21 July.

Thirty-nine nations will compete in the World Cup, with Australia fielding the lion's share of both players and referees.

Burdekin born and bred, Mr Littlefield has played touch football locally since he was a kid and became a referee when he was in Year 12.

“The World Cup comes around every four years and represents the pinnacle of touch football globally,” Mr Littlefield said.

“I’m honoured to be selected to represent my country in the game I’ve grown up with.

“I’ll be refereeing four to five games each day during the competition. I typically run about 5km a game so, over the length of the tournament, I could run up to 125km,” he said.

“I’ve been training for the past six months in preparation.”

Mr Littlefield, aged 38, said he got into refereeing 21 years ago when he was playing club competition with Burdekin Touch Football.

“They needed more referees, so I thought I’d give it a try. I never thought it’d take me this far,” he said.

“I was first selected as an Australian referee for the 2015 Touch Football World Cup in Sydney, which was amazing.

“I was selected again for the 2019 World Cup held in Malaysia, so this will be my third stint refereeing on the world stage,” he said.

Mr Littlefield said that, while he enjoyed playing touch football at home, he loved refereeing the game at a national or international level.

“The pace of the game is so fast, you’re right in the middle of the action, you get a much better view on the field and you make lifelong friends in the process.”

Mr Littlefield’s Inkerman Mill workmates have rallied behind him.

Senior Engineering Superintendent Guy Giardina said he was stoked to see his colleague representing Australia at such an elite level.

“I think it’s a great achievement that shouldn’t go unnoticed and I speak for a lot of Wilmar employees in saying we’re really proud of what he’s achieved,” Mr Giardina said.

General Manager Engineering Istvan Torok congratulated Mr Littlefield for his achievements, on behalf of the company.

“We have many people in our business who work in our sugar mills, live locally and actively contribute to our communities,” Mr Torok said.

“Michael's professionalism and dedication doesn't stop on the field. We see these same values at work and his positive attitude helps to create a great workplace.”

Mr Littlefield holds Touch Football Australia’s highest accreditation for referees and has officiated many high-profile games in the past, including the Touch Football State of Origin, Indigenous All Stars and National Touch Championships.

He is also a member of the National Referee Squad (NRS), which is a team of the top 20 referees in the country.