Gibraltarian Match Officials Jason Barcelo (Referee) and Andrew Parody (Assistant Referee) became the first Gibraltarians to take charge of an international fixture this weekend. In fact they took charge of not one but two matches over the weekend - Chile v Colombia & Argentina v Ecuador.
Needless to say for both Jason and Andrew, this weekend, has been an unforgettable experience. As they summarise in their own words:
"When I got the appointments to go to these 2 international games I thought that somebody was "pulling my leg". But I quickly found out from my Referee Manager Mr Bacarisa that this was genuine. As such Andrew and myself and two other international referees from San Marino were appointed.
My experience was unforgettable, you can only describe it if you live it. It gives you excitement. Plus the great experience of refereeing top teams with top players. There were 23,000 spectators in the Colombia vs Chile match. The game was a high temperature game that challenging to referee. However with my experience I controlled the match well with the help of my team. I had to also take over the second half of Argentina vs Ecuador match due to an injury to my referee colleague Luca Barbeno. Both games were a great experience and a learning curve for me and my team for future international appointments."
"I thought that Jason was having a joke with me when he called me saying that we were going to referee Colombia vs Chile and Argentina vs Ecuador. As such I had to take leave in an ad-hoc fashion from work, I thank the senior management from Gibraltar International Bank for supporting my refereeing.
It is a lovely experience of refereeing these matches and I feel very lucky, I am grateful for having got this opportunity with Jason. The atmosphere, the songs and chants from the crowds in 10s of thousands gives you an excitement in refereeing them, I want to carry on refereeing them. It's made me fall in love with refereeing all over again."
Hopefully Jason and Andrew are the trailblazers for our Match Officials and are just the first set of Gibraltarians to take charge of International Fixtures!