News & Updates

12 December 2023 • Officials

Official Eddie takes us through his journey from the film industry to the running track

Eddie Soria is among one of New Zealand’s most prominent officials.

As a lead paint artist for a host of Hollywood blockbusters from The Hobbit to Planet of the Apes, Eddie Soria leads a full and interesting life. Having also contributed to the software of a winning Oscar nomination and a BAFTA prize he has led a successful and fulfilling life in TV and film.

Yet arguably the Wellington-based Eddie’s greatest passion is athletics – and as one of New Zealand’s most upwardly mobile officials he hopes to help play a similarly impactful behind-the-scenes role for track and field as he does in film and TV industry.

Born and raised in Argentina, Eddie credits athletics for keeping him “out of trouble” during his youth growing up in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aries. Taking up athletics from the age of ten he developed into a promising age group athlete winning a national U18 silver medal as a multi-eventer.

“As a kid I didn’t have much, but I had athletics,” reminisces Eddie. “For me, it was a place I felt safe and made friends for life. I competed up until the age of 20 and started helping out as an official back then in my younger days.”

Taking a break from the sport to focus on his professional career he worked on countless Hollywood movies which included working for big companies such as Sony before in 2012 he was presented the chance to move to Wellington to work on The Hobbit movie. Eddie seized the opportunity and has not regretted the move for one minute. Based in the New Zealand capital for the past 11 years his career has gone from strength to strength working on a host of major TV and film projects including Spiderman 2, a host of Marvel movies and Games of Thrones.

However, not a man to let the grass grow under his feet while living in New Zealand he has re-engaged once again with his passion for athletics. Joining the Kiwi Athletic Club he competed as a masters athlete grabbing a national age group title in triple jump and harvesting North Island gold medals in discus, shot, triple jump and high jump.

After several successful years competing, six years ago he opted to pursue a new athletics focus. Packing away his spike he decided to become an official and has not looked back.  

“As a kid I remembered the important part that officials played, and I started thinking I could give more to the sport as an official rather than as an athlete,” explains Eddie.

Starting out as a C Grade official he quickly graduated to becoming an A Grade official and so the responsibilities increased. Eddie, 53, has also become one of just a handful of New Zealand Lecturers to officials and last year was Field Referee at the 2023 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington. Next February he will continue his education and experience as an official by serving as a technical delegate for the New Zealand Combined Events Championships in Dunedin on February 17-18.

He also plans to complete the World Athletics Referees Bronze Level qualification and although one day he hopes to officiate international – his future goals are not personal.

“The most important thing for me is keep helping and to try and infuse people with enthusiasm for officiating and create a community of officials,” adds Eddie, who day job as a paint artist involves at least 60 hours a week of digital hand paint visual effects.

“If I do officiate overseas, I hope to come back to New Zealand and share my experiences. It is never for me to in the spotlight. It is for the athletes to be in the spotlight.”

Possessing an inquisitive mind and a sharp brain, Eddie has also been responsible in creating an app of the World Athletics Rulebook. The Kiwi-based official had long questioned why officials had to haul around a heavy rulebook at meetings all around the world – but the app has instantly negated this requirement.

“The rulebook is the oldest thing we have in the sport, to me it is ancient but after reading a few years ago that World Athletics was trying to modernise and reach a younger audience I thought, why doesn’t World Athletics have the rulebook as an app? I emailed World Athletics and they were happy for me to create an app providing they were given a credit. I had no idea about coding, and it took me six months to learn but by the time of the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene all the officials were using the app.”

Initially available on the IOS platform he has since created one suitable for Android and has also created the Rulebook in Spanish and the UK approached him to build a similar app for their market.

Yet while he was delighted to be able to help create the app, he has not great designs on building more apps in the future – just simply to continue to support the sport.

So, what is the buzz and the thrill he gets from officiating?

“When I officiate, it gives me the same feeling as when I was competing as an athlete,” he says. “It is just today I have different goals,” he adds. “Now I have to make sure the field and the implements are ready and we haven’t forgotten anything.

“For me, however, the most important thing for officials is not just to know the rules by heart, but to know why they were created and how to interpret. Once you understand that, things will get a bit easier and that is how you will become a good official.”

***If you are interested in joining Eddie as part of the officiating team at the 2024 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships at Newtown Park, Wellington (14-17 March) go here