Waterfront Sport meets with referee Amir Akhtar

The Waterfront caught up with Amir Akhtar, a referee in the Intramural Football League.

It is the History and Economics student’s first season involved in intramural, and his first experience of refereeing.

When asked what made him want to take up refereeing in the intramural league, Akhtar replied: “I wanted to do some sport at Uni and my favourite sport was football.

“I tried out for 2 teams and didn’t make it but luckily I heard they needed referees this season and jumped on it straight away.

I just wanted to do anything with football, and also the pay is definitely a big bonus.”

Akhtar made it clear he was not thrown straight into the proverbial deep-end without training, however.

He said: “We had a local Welsh FA registered referee, who had over 25 years experience, come in and teach the course.

“He taught us everything to do with refereeing, but nothing practical. After that we had to sit an exam to qualify to be level 8 Welsh FA referees.”

Refereeing has not come without its difficulties though, Akhtar says: “I suppose I’ve realised how easy it is to miss something, for instance, with corners in a crowded box, on TV you can see it all but as a referee it’s much more difficult to spot fouls and the like.”

Akhtar added: “The biggest mistake I made was when one team scored, but I gave a goal-kick thinking it went out.

“There was a hole in the net right by the post which the striker’s shot went through! They were livid but I stuck to my decision.

“You will always get at least one tough offside call each game because we don’t have proper linesmen. The linesmen we have are substitute players, but they are only allowed to dictate throw-ins, it’s the ref’s decision to call offside.”

There have been many positive experiences in refereeing, Akhtar maintains, saying: “On the second week of matches, I was asked to referee a big game as the initial ref couldn’t make it.

“The game was between last season’s cup finalists who have a big rivalry. It ended 4-3 but I was told after the game I handled it well.

“Getting praise from the losing side after a game is definitely a great feeling.”

And Akhtar insists he plans on sticking with refereeing beyond this year.

He said: “I’m planning on doing it until I leave Swansea. I will also start refereeing locally as I’m now qualified to do so, but I want a bit more experience first.”

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