While the OFC U-17 Championship provided players with an opportunity to reach their dreams, it had the same impact for two of our referees who received their FIFA badges last week in Fiji.

Kavitesh Behari (Fiji) and Calvin Berg (New Zealand) officiated at the tournament and were given their FIFA badges at a small ceremony at the conclusion of their training seminar on Wednesday, January 25 local time.

The FIFA badge enables referees to officiate at international level matches and at FIFA tournaments.

They are entitled to wear it on their uniform, and it indicates the category of which the official has been listed in (referee, assistant referee, futsal referee or beach soccer referee).

Behari is the fourth member of his family to reach this milestone.

“I feel very proud to be the fourth member in my family to achieve this and continue the family legacy,” Behari said.

“My father was the first to receive his in 1993 as a FIFA assistant referee, then my eldest brother as a FIFA futsal referee followed by my other brother who got his as a football referee in 2016, and now me.

“Officiating at the U-17 tournament has been a fun experience for me. If I compare it to others, the standards and players have improved making it a good challenge for us.

“While these competitions are great to officiate at, the FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of one’s refereeing career, that’s my goal now.”

Berg, who resides in Dunedin, New Zealand, said receiving his FIFA badge was a proud moment.

“We’re all fans of the game and passionate about football, this badge allows me to continue progressing and participating at the highest level possible as a referee,” Berg said.

“It has also given me motivation to do the best I can from here and represent OFC at an international level.

“Looking ahead the goal for me is to simply enjoy football.

“We can dream about officiating at World Cups but tournaments like the OFC U-17 Championship is where we’re able to learn the differences in cultures and how football is played.

“We can learn and have fun at the same time, the world is your oyster.”