What does it take to become an official football referee in Singapore? “You have to go for a fitness test to get your referee badge. The fitness test involves high intensity tests where you have to do 40m sprints for six times, each below 6.2 seconds, followed by interval runs where we run 150m in 35 seconds then walk 50m in 40 seconds for eight laps,” shared Patrick. At 65, Patrick is the oldest football referee in Singapore under the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), although FAS usually recruits referees under 36 years.
As a part-time class 3 referee, Patrick participates in FAS- sanctioned matches every year, such as school games, COE (Centre of Excellence where young players are trained) games and FAS women’s league. He has also participated as a player in the annual 19th ASMI 7-A-side Soccer Tournament last April. The tournament is specially organised for all soccer fans in the marine and offshore engineering industry.
It is surprising to hear how Patrick’s love for football only came in after his company started engaging its employees in sports activities when he was 40 years old. This immense interest in sports has translated itself into a weekly schedule – badminton on Mondays, running on Tuesdays, football on Wednesdays, German language on Thursdays, badminton again on Fridays, trekking on Saturdays, and football on Sundays.
Engaging in his favourite activities have also allowed him to keep in touch with today’s youth. In fact, he helped to start a Youth Chapter Football group at his Resident Committee (RC) in order to train youths to take over as office-bearers in the organisation. “We get the youths to help in events and try to cultivate their interests to take up positions in the RC. We let them run their own show, they don’t like adults to tell them what to do.”
Perhaps Patrick’s interest in sports was accelerated by his long years in serving as a marine engineer at sea. Fulfilling his childhood wish to be a sailor, Patrick has been in the waters for over 10 years, sailing through China and America. One of his greatest memories was the chance to watch the sunset in green technicolor which he described, “my first time and once in a lifetime”. The father of two still longs to be back in the sea, though it will put him in a dilemma – sailing means he has to leave his job as a football referee.
Right now, Patrick hopes to set up a competitive football team to participate in tournaments. He is looking for interested players over 40 years old to join him. Although he admits that this experience may be very challenging, it is part of his plans “to be active all his life”.