New Zealand referee Antony Riley was in action at the Continental Futsal Championship in Thailand last week alongside Chris Sinclair.

The event served as training for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 in September.

He caught up with OFC about his journey so far.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am the Central Football Referee Manager and am based in Palmerston North with my wife Emma and two children, Noah who turns five in August, and Isla who turns three in October.

This role allows me to work in my passion and I enjoy engaging with both futsal and football referees across the federation.

You were in Thailand officiating at the 2021 Continental Futsal Championship, how was the experience?

Chris and I worked together on three matches including the semi-final between Thailand and Egypt.

All three matches had different elements to them which required different physical and mental refereeing techniques from us. This reinforces why it was an excellent preparation opportunity for the World Cup in September.

In saying that, how important was it for you to get in some high quality football ahead of the World Cup?

This opportunity was invaluable and I appreciate the support from New Zealand Football and OFC.

Our last international matches were in November 2019 at the OFC Futsal Nations Cup, so it has been a long time between matches at this level.

Antony Riley with Chris Sinclair at the 2021 Continental Futsal Championship in Thailand. Photo Credit: Antony Riley

We can now head into the World Cup feeling more confident about the level of futsal we are going to experience.

What’s your training regime been like?

For me this year started off horridly being in hospital for surgery to remove a part of my small intestine due to a blood clot which caused the small intestine to begin to die.

This was of course a major shock and required significant surgery and recovery.

The support of my family, employer and refereeing colleagues at this time was instrumental in my success in getting through that medial situation.

Besides that, I believe maintaining my physical fitness levels is important but also my technical and mental fitness too.

I incorporate concentration activities and make decisions on match incidents via video clips.

This is essential to ensuring my technical knowledge is current and fine tunes my ability to correctly interpret match situations.

What are you looking forward to the most in Lithuania?

I received the original news via email from NZF Development Manager Ken Wallace about the Road to Lithuania World Cup Candidate Programme, all while I was in an intensive care bed in hospital due to the medical situation mentioned above.

In June, Chris and I knew an announcement of the final candidate list was due and would check it regularly.

Once the official information came through of my selection it was great to share it with Chris but of course my family and colleagues.

This is an opportunity coming towards the end of my refereeing career that spans over 25 years.

Being selected for a FIFA World Cup has always been an ambition of mine and I am looking forward to being part of the tournament in every way.

I understand your last FIFA international gig was at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, this will be your first FIFA Futsal World Cup, how are you feeling about this milestone?

This is a major refereeing career milestone but one that I am ready for and excited about.

To be able to represent our families, federations, country and confederation at a FIFA Futsal World Cup is an honour, and Chris and I will be looking to represent everyone who has contributed to our success.