Every month we will be focusing the spotlight on one of our match officials, finding out more about their journey in the game thus far. This month we are starting with young referee, Tazlim Alli, who has achieved his first ever FA appointment operating as an Assistant Referee in The Buildbase FA Vase First Qualifying Round.
Tazlim’s journey as a referee started just two years ago when he was still in school and was inspired by a current senior Sussex referee: “Two years ago I was in school and playing for a football team called Rustington Rovers, but not playing as much as I would’ve liked and I just wanted to have an active role in the game.
“Then Sussex referee, Tim Robinson, came to our school, did a little talk on his journey as a referee to the top of the game, and that kind of inspired me to do the same. I knew a few other referees already and they encourage me to start, so I did, and I’ve been really enjoying it a lot ever since!”
To be appointed onto The Buildbase FA Vase at a young age and after just two years officiating is of course a huge achievement for ‘Taz’ and the secret for him he says is just enjoying what he does: “For me it was just all about enjoyment. I wasn’t thinking too far ahead and I wasn’t thinking about an end goal, but compliments and confidence started to build and I thought I had a good chance of doing well at this.”
One of the hardest things as a match official at any level, can be building that level of respect amongst players, something which Taz likes to think he receives: “Respect is something I have always been taught and I’m lucky enough to have people at the Sussex County FA who have been able to help improve my performance and interaction with players.
“I’m fortunate enough to be a member of The FA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE), and I’ve got an amazing guy called Phil Wilks who has been a great coach for me. I’m in the learning stage so I just want to keep learning every time I go out on the pitch really.”
Recently in Sussex we have seen Tim Robinson appointed his first Premier League game, Harry Lennard appointed on the Carabao Cup Final, Carl Brook promoted to the English Football League and these are all role models that Taz looks up to, he said: “It’s all very inspiring and it’s amazing to look at the top level and see guys from Sussex there.
“I don’t only look at the top level and those guys though, I also get inspired by many referees at grassroots level as well. I learn and pick up things from everyone. Whether I’m assisting in a team of three in the Southern Combination Football League or whether I’m refereeing a West Sussex Football League game, I learn and pick up things from those around me.”
Talking to Taz you immediately sense the humbleness in his speech and it’s clear that his journey from two years go to now being appointed on The Buildbase FA Vase hasn’t quite sunk in for him yet: “It’s quite surreal really. But it’s an exciting time because I enjoy the variety of fixtures, whether I’m doing a kids game or an adults game, I just look forward to all the appointments that come.”
Whilst he has his feet firmly on the ground, Taz isn’t shy with his aspirations of wanting to officiate on the Premier League stating it as his “dream to officiate on the best league in the world, the Premier League”.
What’s more, as a Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) representative in football, he wants to proudly represent the community within football and believes that BAME representation at a grassroots level is improving all the time: “It would be absolutely incredible to be a BAME representative at the highest level. Whilst there isn’t a crazy amount at the highest level, I see a lot at grassroots and semi-professional level so hopefully that will change in the near future and there will be many more before me that get there!”
Lastly, Taz gave advice for any other referees or officials just starting out: “Just keep enjoying what you’re doing. Go out there no matter the fixture or occasion, just have a smile on your face and have fun. Just keep working hard and take advice from every person that you meet.”
For more information about refereeing in Sussex please contact:
T: 01903 768573