A RECENTLY retired soccer referee from Bennett Springs wants to pass on his 500-plus game experience to Australia’s next crop of referees.
Mathew Cheeseman made his officiating debut in 2001 at 16 years of age and refereed 420 State League and 95 National Premier Leagues matches, as well as 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.
“It was a lot of wear and tear with refereeing statewide, 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; the surgery was always on the cards.”
The Manchester United supporter said he was lucky to serve as an assistant referee in big matches, including the 2012 A-League grand final, 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,” he said.
“I have officiated in about 14 or 15 different countries, as far away as Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, England and the majority of South-East Asia.”
Cheeseman said he wanted to stay involved in football.
“I have been at Football West for 10 years now, currently in the role of referees manager, but now it is a case of moving on and becoming a referee coach at the top level as well,” he said.