It's crazy looking back when you're in the middle of an occasion you've been waiting for for so long. At times, this trip was the "motivation" to work hard and power through tough times at home.
Now, I'm 8 days in, with 14 days remaining - not even halfway yet! Crazy how much I've actually packed into these 8 days. Thousands of kilometres, 4 different languages, and all types of weather - but mostly beautiful and sunny. The beaches here in Malaga/Marbella/Estepona are simply amazing - and I've gotten a great tan in 8 days here so far.
I've been blessed with many unique opportunities this trip. I mentioned the opportunity to pick up Mark Clattenburg (FIFA and Premier League referee, Olympic Gold Final 2012, and Europa League Final) from the airport - it was an honour to spend an hour with him and soak up as much information as possible.
Today, I was given another awesome opportunity to work with top level referees. Peter Bednar - a Slovakian National List assistant referee who works in the Slovak Premier League - was my assistant for a game I was 4th official on this morning. The other assistant on that game was Adrian Holmes - a National List referee from England who works Premier League games regularly. Great sense of humour he has.... One of the younger referees asked him where he got his shirt with the Premier League badge stitched into it. Without blinking, he dead panned: "I collected 20 cereal box tops and sent them in with my address attached." Classic Englishman.
For all my friends and family who don't know the significance of working with these specific referees - Adrian does games involving Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Everton. Mark Clattenburg is considered one of (if not the ) best and most respected referees in England and UEFA (Europe).
I couldn't have dreamed of a greater opportunity - but it gets better.
Tomorrow - I have been assigned to referee in the middle a match involving Sevilla CF U15's (Spanish La Liga top division pro academy) and a top level local Academy - CDAD Pablo Picasso. I hope it's a good match - I plan to do my part.
That's not all.
After that game - the tournament has assigned me to be on the line (Assistant referee) with Mark Clattenburg himself as my middle referee! Oh. My. Gosh. The game will be Valencia U15's vs. UD San Pedro - which is apparently the local side. What a match!
Still in shock. Can't believe it. #blessed
I can't wait for what tomorrow brings. At the very least, I'll get a picture to appease the requests of my main mentors back home, Rob Urquhart. He's quite the fan of Mark. 😉
Anyways - I have to get some sleep so I "don't suck" tomorrow. (Whatever you do Mike, don't suck). Thanks guys......