Young Liberian Referee Dream comes true


Monrovia-A 14-year-old Liberian referee whose hero is former British football referee, Howard Webb has received a special yellow card use by the retired FIFA referee in the 2010 world.
Little Isaac who is a resident of Gbarnga City Bong County is passionate about refereeing said his love for the game started at the age of 9 years old.
Adrian Chiles a British television and radio presenter, currently working for BBC Radio 5 Live narrated that he got to know about the promising Liberian referee through his University friend Ged who is a big Newcastle fan from Consett, County Durham, who is now an aid worker in Liberia.
Ged told his friend Chiles about Isaac desire to meet Howard Webb his hero but said he was nine years old when a Liberian Coach Timothy “Gapsi” Kromah came across him and encourage him to be a Referee.
It all started when at a practice session after Gapsi blew his whistle for the game to start, he saw Isaac jump up, attach some plastic to a stick, and start holding it like a linesman.
“Every time the ball go out, he would put the plastic up,” says Gapsi, who started reacting to Isaac’s signals, This, in Gapsi’s words, is what happened next:
β€œI decided to follow him, and would blow. Any foul he would put the flag up, and I would blow. After the practice, I called him. I said, ‘What’s your name?’
He said, ‘My name is Isaac’,So I said, ‘Where do you live?’
He showed the area he lives. So then I asked him, ‘Where’s your father?’ As soon as I said this he began to cry.
He was like an abandoned child in the community because his father died and his mother was disabled. She can’t walk for even five minutes, when she goes out.
I told him to come for practice the next day. He came. So I called the children on the practice ground. I told them, ‘This man you see, he will be your head from today. Anybody disrespect him, you disrespect me. So everything he tells you to do, do it, or you will not play on the team.’
Over time, Isaac came to be known as Isaac Popo because of the sound his whistle makes. And Gapsi saw him improve to such an extent that he decided to try him out refereeing adult football.
Coach Kromah said the only reason why little Isaac is not refereeing far is because of his age because the age range to become a referee is 18 .
β€œIf he has the support, I see him go far, like Howard Webb, the great Howard Webb of England. I see him maybe exceeding Howard Webb, because that’s his role model. He said he wants to be like Howard Webb, or even more than Howard Webb” Gapsi added.
After listening to the interesting story of Isaac Chiles and Ged send some photos and the Story of the young referee to Howard Webb.
“This is an amazing story and I was pretty moved,” he wrote back. “I spent a few weeks in Nigeria working for Fifa in 2009 and I know about the obsession with Premier League football in West Africa, but it’s unbelievable that somebody like Isaac has even heard of me, never mind holding me as his role model.” Webb said in his communication to the BCC journalist
Howard now works in the USA but when got in UK for 2017 Christmas he sent Ged a package for Isaac. In it was one of Howard’s Fifa kits, a copy of his book, and a note wishing Isaac all the best for his refereeing career.
He also sent the actual yellow card he used in the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa, between the Netherlands and Spain.
Ged made the journey to Gbarnga and give Isaac the items in front half of the town who turn out for the presentation to the delightful Isaac.
Reviving the items Isaac appreciated the former best Referee for his gesture to him.
“I prayed by the Almighty God today, when I received these gifts, that I will be standing with Howard Webb one day and that we two can interact,” he said. “I will tell him thank you for his gifts, and I would like to take some advice from him for the rules of the game.”
Adrian Chiles said the next job is to get Howard out to Liberia something he is optimistic of doing in time to come but in the meantime “Popo” is to be found in Liberia refereeing football matches. The five dollars he earns every game helps to support his family. He wears a Fifa kit several sizes too big for him, and books players with the very yellow card his hero used 14 times in a World Cup Final.