A RECENTLY retired soccer referee wants to pass his 500-plus game experience on to Australia’s next crop of officials.
Mathew Cheeseman made his officiating debut at 16 years of age in 2001 and refereed 420 State League and 95 National Premier Leagues matches, and 84 A-League games as an assistant referee.
Cheeseman won the State Assistant Referee of the Year four times (2005, 2009-2011) and served on the A-League panel for 10 years.
He is WA’s only representative on the FIFA international list of assistant referees, which he joined in 2013, along with the Asian Football Confederation Elite Panel until the end of 2016.
The 31-year-old, who said he never had the desire to become a player, had his time as a referee cut short by an achilles injury.
He said he could no longer serve as a referee at the most elite level.
“It was a lot of wear and tear with refereeing state-wide, nationally and internationally and it has been a long slog, doing it 12 months a year for the last 10 years,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it caught up with me but I pushed through as far as I could and the surgery was always on the cards, it was just a case of when.
“Last year, having a pretty heavy international year, I wanted to get to the end of it first and then book in for the surgery in November.”
The Manchester United supporter said he was lucky to serve as an assistant referee in big matches including the 2012 A-League grand final, where he was the second West Australian to achieve the feat.
“There has been a lot of international highlights but obviously the biggest one was last year in Melbourne where there was 100,000 people at the MCG with Real Madrid and Manchester City, which you do not get to do that every day,” he said.
“I have been very lucky, I think I have officiated in about 14 or 15 different countries, some as far away as Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, England and the majority of South-East Asia.”
Cheeseman said he would miss refereeing but wanted to stay involved in football.
“Football is such a technical game and such an emotional game so when you combine the two of them together, it is a great game to be involved in,” he said.