You? A football referee? How can that be?! You’re so shy!”.

Yeah, I get that quite often whenever I tell people about what I do.

“How do you do it? How do you seem so confident out there on the pitch?”, they ask.

“Well, let’s just say that you have to be a good actor”, I usually reply, with a grin.

Not to mention, of course, the time, hard work, and plenty of experience it took to build up that confidence.

I remember my first days at the Refereeing Academy where I wouldn’t speak to a single soul in the room. Sitting towards the back of the classroom, not saying a word, until one of the lecturers would ask me a question, leaving me with no choice but to speak up and answer them. But that was it. I was no social butterfly.

However, as the months and years went by, that confidence kept on building up. I met a whole bunch of new people, and made new friends, too.

Refereeing involves good communication with those around you,  whether you like it or not. So that, I found, was the trick. Being thrown into the deep end, as the idiom goes. Although an ordinary football match may not sound like “the deep end” to many, it was quite a big deal for me. Now, it’s safe to say I’ve totally passed that stage. I even share the occasional joke or two with the players before a game, as an icebreaker, to start off on a positive note. Something which I thought I’d never have the courage to do.

That’s not to say that I’m not shy or reserved anymore. I still am. And I think those are two traits of mine which won’t go away anytime soon. I’m not complaining about it, mind you. However, I am proud to say that I find it easier to speak or start conversations with people in my daily life, nowadays.

And whenever I walk out onto that pitch, I am a different person.

Shoulders straight, chest out, and head held high. Just as my dad taught me.

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– Preston Carbonaro

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