Referee Arnold Hunter from Northern Ireland recently got promoted by Uefa to the international Second Group. His goal is become an Elite referee.
That’s what he says in an interview with the Dutch Referee Blog.The 33-year-old referee from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, started officiating – as many referees – due to an injury. It was his uncle George Parkinson who introduced him at that moment into the wonderful world of refereeing. Now he has an international career, is in Second Group and got twelve more international years ahead.
How important was your uncle for you becoming a referee?
“My uncle was a founding member of Fermanagh and Western Referees’ Association. He was a football referee in the league for 25 years and later became a Match Observer. He is now President of the Association. It was during his time as a Match Observer, whilst I was recovering from a football injury, he suggested I attend the local referees’ beginners course. It was as simple as that.”
“As you can imagine, it is difficult to say No to your uncle so my younger brother and I, along with two others, attended and completed the course in November 2001. I refereed my first competitive senior mens’ junior league match in December 2001, which finished 3-4. I was hooked from that day.”
“As a teenager I was focused on playing football, occasionally though during the game I did think of learning the laws of the game to understand the game better but I had never considered refereeing before this conversation with my uncle. I’ve always been close to my uncle, although he certainly didn’t offer any special privileges and was hard on me at times.”
“On becoming a referee he had a major influence, my uncle is like a father figure to me; he had a wealth of experience and a great teaching ethos, so I never wanted to let him down.”Don’t you miss being a player?
“Because I was a goal-keeper and suffered a bad arm break from colliding with a large 6ft centre forward! However, don’t get me wrong. I have some really happy memories of playing competitive football with my brothers and cousins in the Junior league. Looking back now, I would say I wouldn’t have ended up becoming a referee if I hadn’t played football.”
Is this more beautiful?
“Yes, definitely. As a referee I have been involved in matches I could only dream of as a player and I consider it a real honour to be involved in these games. Refereeing has brought me to places and countries I could only have imagined and introduced me to some wonderful people and friends within the refereeing family from across Europe.”
This is the first part of an interview with Arnold Hunter. Read also: Arnold Hunter (part 2 of the interview).