AFC Referee Awards 2016: Faghani (IRN) & Jacewicz (AUS)

From an early age, football was far more than just a game for Alireza Faghani. For the 38-year-old, the passion for football and refereeing runs deep in his family roots. “I come from a family of referees. Both my brother and brother-in-law are referees. My father and father-in-law were also professional referees in the Iranian league back home. They had a big influence on me. I spent hours watching and studying them. From 16 years of age, I always knew refereeing was my calling,” Faghani told in an exclusive after receiving the AFC Referees Special Award 2016 alongside his Islamic Republic of Iran compatriots Reza Sokhandan and Mohammad Reza Mansouri in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday. The IR Iran trio made Asian history during the Rio Olympics 2016 when they were selected to officiate the final of the Men's Football Tournament in August. “Reza and Mohammad have been fantastic and together, we have formed a great partnership. As a centre referee, you need to be aware of every detail on the pitch and they have made my life so much easier,” added Faghani. While the chemistry between the trio produced one of the proudest moments for Asian refereeing this year, the unassuming Faghani was also quick to praise his continent’s counterparts for a stellar year. “This special award is dedicated to all referees in Asia. Through the AFC programmes and seminar that we have attended together, we have grown closer and we are all inspired to give our best each time we enter the pitch. “I must express my gratitude to the AFC instructors and all Asian referees. There is an entire team working continuously behind the scene and none of this would have been possible without them.”
Echoing his sentiments, Australia’s Kate Jacewicz, who alongside fellow countrywoman Renae Coghill and India’s Uvena Fernandes, received the award in the women’s category after being the first-ever AFC women’s team to officiate the all-Asian final in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan last month and attributed the accolade to the teamwork and solidarity of her peers. “Renae and Uvena are consummate professionals. During training and preparation, they have always given 100% and they are extremely committed to ensuring that we work well as a unit.If you look at the seminar today, this is precisely the type of programmes that allows us to sharpen our abilities,” revealed Jacewicz, referring to the first-ever combined women’s and men’s Elite Referees and Assistant Referees Seminar, which opened after the awards ceremony. “Both male and female referees have a journey. They have a story to tell and different experiences which we can learn from. Gender doesn’t discriminate and through sharing our stories, we will benefit and grow together,” added the New South Wales native who began refereeing in Australia’s national women’s league at just 18 years of age, before becoming a FIFA referee eight years later. Looking to the future, Jacewicz hopes to emulate the achievements of her accomplished AFC instructors and referees, many of whom have paved the way for today’s generation of men and women referees. “My ultimate aim is to officiate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France. In the meantime, I am taking it one step at a time and will continue studying our elite referees and AFC instructors. I especially look to DPR Korea’s Ri Hyang-Ok, Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan and of course Faghani for inspiration. All of them are beautiful to watch.”

Source: AFC