In a special Refugee Week edition of Behind the Whistle, Football Queensland caught up with Reyad Al Nasser to hear about his journey as a young referee in Australia.
Born in Syria, Al Nasser first arrived in Australia in 2016 and moved to Toowoomba where his involvement in football began as a player.
A few years later at the age of 17, Al Nasser kick started his refereeing career through the influence of his younger brother, Rakez, completing a Level 4 course as part of the Football Academy program at Harristown State High School.
“It’s funny because he actually started refereeing before me, around a month earlier,” Al Nasser said.
“I watched him officiate and I asked him for feedback, and he said that it was a really good experience, so I joined as well.”
As brothers both refereeing within the Darling Downs region, Al Nasser said he appreciates the rare opportunities when they can officiate together.
“I don’t know how to explain it but it’s a good feeling to referee with a family member,” he said.
“We have weekly games and sometimes we get appointed as assistant referees together for the same games, so it’s been great.”
With a passion for playing in addition to his role as a referee, the 19-year-old regularly draws on his experience as a player when officiating matches.
“It’s all about managing the game. I’m a player too and I hate when other players get up against the referee,” he said.
“As a player, I understand how players feel. So, as a referee, I can manage the game easier with that knowledge.”
Having spent the last six years in Toowoomba since his arrival in Australia, Al Nasser has settled into the Darling Downs football community through his involvement not only as a player but more recently as a referee, and is excited to progress even further within the game.
“As a player now, I want to keep playing, but I also want to take my refereeing to the next level.”
He acknowledged the support of the local community in Toowoomba in helping his growth through the game.
“It’s very welcoming. I found it hard to understand the language at the start but then after that, everything started to work out, and I feel like a part of this community now.”