Working for VSA can take some unexpected, and very rewarding, turns as Trevor Johnston, Programme Manager, Kiribati and Tuvalu, recently discovered when he was asked to referee a national football tournament.
Trevor had the honour of refereeing the opening match at the National Games on 4 November. The match was attended by thousands of people, including the President of Kiribati, at the Sports Complex in Betio (on Tarawa).
The President of the Kiribati Islands Football Association (KIFA), Martin Tofinga, then asked Trevor to referee two Quarter Finals, a Semi-Final and the Final.
“I felt truly honoured and accepted,” said Trevor. “I refereed the Final on Saturday 16 November and it was again attended by thousands of people.”
The background to Trevor’s involvement began earlier this year when he was asked by the Secretary of Kiribati partner organisation, the Ministry of Women, Youth, Sports and Social Affairs (MWYSSA), to attend some of their strategic meetings.
“At one of the meetings I met Martin Tofinga,” said Trevor. “Martin asked me to be an Advisor for KIFA with the aim of developing an assignment to assist with the development of football in Kiribati.
“Martin was aware that I was playing for a local veterans’ team and also refereeing local matches. I had been a player, coach and referee in South Africa and New Zealand and I happily offered my services and experience locally on weekends.”
Martin asked Trevor if he could run a Basic Refereeing Course in July, which he did for 20 local referees (the course was opened by the Minister for Sport). Trevor then ran a second Basic Refereeing Course in October for 50 referees from all the islands in preparation for the National Games.
“And it was at that training course that the Secretary for MWYSSA and the President of KIFA asked if I could referee the opening game. They wanted to highlight the standard of refereeing that they expected for the tournament demonstrating that Kiribati could hold a well-organised event with the aim of applying for membership to the international football body, FIFA.”
Trevor and his wife, Michelle, were recently invited to attend the State Dinner at the President’s Residence. “To my surprise the President of Kiribati, His Excellency Taneti Mamau, thanked me and VSA personally for my time, dedication and effort in making the tournament a success,” said Trevor.