Nigel_OwensOctober 28 - A leading rugby referee has called for volunteers to pick up the whistle and try out a potential new professional career.

Nigel Owens (pictured), one of Wales' most respected refs, says: "There's a career option now and if you are good there are structures in place which you can move through and become the highest potential referee that you possibly can.

"There's an opportunity for you to be a professional referee and to make a career out of it."

Throwing his support behind Sport Wales' Behind Every Star Campaign - which is raising awareness of coaching and volunteering opportunities - Owens added: "I think most importantly, it's an opportunity to be a part of rugby, to put something back in.

"If you don't like playing, or you're injured, or you're not good enough to play at a certain level, then there's an opportunity for you to enjoy it and be a part of it by refereeing."

Owens started volunteering aged just 16 and heartily recommends others to consider refereeing as a way to get involved with rugby.

He says: "Refereeing started as a hobby really.

"I just did it, by chance, in school.

"There were posters up looking for referees, so I started off by helping out and volunteering."

In a bid to inspire the people of Wales to play their part, esteemed photographer Terry Morris turned his attention to the world of sport, capturing 11 of Wales' sporting heroes of the moment - including Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts - with one of their most influential coaches to date.

The Behind Every Star photographic exhibition wraps up its extended tour of Wales by touching down at Festival Park Shopping Centre, Blaenau, Gwent, from October 29-30.

Owens added: "Behind Every Star is a great initiative to get the message out to people who maybe don't realise what they can be part of and how important it is [to volunteer and coach].

"Every one of those players, like Ryan Jones and Shane Williams, has got there thanks to the volunteers in their local community who have been willing to go and open the rugby club on a Sunday morning, or wash the kit for them to train, or give up a night or two a week to go and coach the kids.

"And then there's the people who give up their time to go and referee on Sunday mornings so that all these future stars could be able to play and be part of this game.

"It's important we don't forget those people who give all their time - the parents, the uncles and aunties and grandfathers who take their kids training or give up their time and go out to mark the pitch on a Sunday morning and make sure it's okay for people to play and be part of everything we have here in Wales, in whatever sport it is."