I did not know my late Ayah was a football referee until I came across a picture of him as the man in black in a group photo. Though it was years before I became a journo, I could instantly pick out one familiar face in that picture - Datuk Peter Velappan.
"Eh ini gambar Peter Velappan, AFC secretary ni Ayah," I told Ayah.
"Ye ke?" he responded.
"Game kat mana ni?"
"Dekat estet...Ayah pun tak ingat."
It's a shame I did not keep that picture. Velappan, of course, went on to become one of the most respected figures in world football. Ayah was a grade 3 referee and did not pursue his footballing interests. He cut his teeth alongside Othman Kamaluddin or better known among the refs as OK.
Becoming a referee is not an easy task. While it is one area one can pursue a career with, to reach the top of the profession takes a lot of hard work. And a thick skin. Ask Tan Sri Zain Hashim, T. Nadarajan, S. Kathrivale, Datuk George Joseph, Kol Kamaruddin Sakhari, the late Mohd Nazri Abdullah, Steven Ovinis and Othman Omar, just to name a few.
So I salute teachuhman's relentless effort to coach referees, read here. I hope they would one day reach the top.