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SINGAPORE: The May work meeting was interrupted to break the news to 36-year-old Muhammad Taki Aljafari Jahari.

I was in tears when I was selected as one of the 129 referees for the 2022 World Cup.

“It was very, very moving. I cried tears of joy… Honestly, I never expected this appointment and coming from a country like Singapore. I come from a small country.”

“This is what I really wanted. , and even become a reserve referee, but all the roles assigned to you at the World Cup reflect the tremendous, hard work you’ve done over the past few years.”

And for Taqi, who will be one of the 24 umpires who operate the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the tournament, it was a journey that began when he was 16.

face the pressure

As a young man, Taqi honed his soccer skills on the Boyd Deck with his friends, but eventually joined the hockey team because his school did not have a soccer extracurricular activity.

“We were interested in football, so football was just entertainment, and we played football socially with our school friends,” he said.

He was eventually roped into one of the Singapore Football Association’s refereeing courses by two schoolmates whose families officiate matches in the local amateur league.

“When we were playing soccer, we were talking about soccer…they roped me in just to learn the laws of the game,” he said.

“When I took the course, it was about learning more about the game. There was no so-called deep interest in refereeing. I was just learning the rules of the game and refereeing matches at the grassroots level, at the amateur level.”

But after the ‘O’ level, with more time on his hands, Taqi decided to dedicate more time to refereeing.

He eventually took charge of his first game in the S-League (now the Singapore Premier League) in 2006.

“At 19, someone like me wants to debut as a footballer for the national team, or for an age-group team,” Taqi said.

“But for me, making my debut as a referee, I think it put a lot of pressure on me…because I had very experienced players, whether they were local players or international players, and I had a lot of experience in the match. Because we were facing the field.”

Taki will overcome this as he takes charge of more matches.

“I felt that this was an opportunity for me to move forward… to the next level, possibly international level in the next few years. I decided to take refereeing more seriously, not as entertainment or leisure,” he added. 20 years after joining the refereeing course at age 16, the Singaporean is refereeing the World Cup

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