Refereeing - Jarnail Singh

There are only a few Asian referees to be seen on our local and national pitches but the tide is turning, as referees such as Jarnail Singh have become trailblazers for the next generation of Asian officials.

Jarnail Singh became a referee in the Midlands in 1982 whilst also managing an Asian youth football team. They could never get a linesman or one of the subs to run the line so Jarnail always ended up doing the job. In light of this, he thought it would be useful to learn the rule’s of the game so he decided to undertake the referee’s course. This is where his journey began.

Jarnail Singh

He found that accessing a course was easy as local leagues always have a need for referees.

You speak to any local referee and they will put you into contact with your local referee’s association, or you get into contact with your county football association. In most counties courses are held 3 or 4 times a year. I faced no barriers in accessing a course and everybody was really helpful.

After a lot of hard work and help from fellow colleagues and the Referee’s Association, Jarnail become one of the first Asian referees in the football league. According to Jarnail Singh:

It’s a lot easier these days as a lot more help and advice is given. Young referees are encouraged and even appointed mentors to look after them and to help them develop and progress up the refereeing ladder.

Even though the number of Asian referees is relatively small – mirroring Asian players – Jarnail points out that there are more Asian referees now than when he first started but still not as many as there should be. So we need to encourage more Asians men and women to complete the referee training.

Being a referee is the next best thing if you love football and you’re not a very good player – at least you are getting involved in the sport and on the pitch. In my opinion I have made more friends in refereeing than I would have ever made playing the game.

Jarnail feels that all aspiring referees especially those who might feel excluded from the mainstream, should give refereeing a go and recommends the profession to everyone with an interest.

Go and watch a game at your local park or pitch and speak to any referee – they can advise you of your local Referee Association/County Refereeing Association or someone you can speak to.

Jarnail Singh has recently become a FA Ambassador, which entails promoting and encouraging minority groups and individuals into football and raising awareness of the FA’s race equality work.

Jarnail’s story denotes how refereeing has allowed him to become a part of the game that he loves whilst providing a positive role model to all aspiring referees.

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