The match between Southampton and Nottingham Forest, on Wednesday, went down in history as the first Premier League contest to have a Sikh man officiating as an assistant referee. The honour belonged to Bhupinder Singh Gill, the 37-year-old Sikh
who comes from a family of referees.
“This has to be the proudest and most exciting moment in my refereeing journey, but I’m not getting carried away as it is just another step in the direction to where I want to get to,” Bhupinder told The Guardian.
His father Jarnail Singh had a distinguished record of being the first turbaned man to officiate in over 150 English Football League (EFL) games. Bhupinder’s elder brother, Sunny, is also a professional referee in the second tier of the league. In 2021, the duo
officiated in the same game, between Bristol City and Nottingham Forest.
Bhupinder thanked his dad for his constant encouragement, saying “he’s taken leave from work to make sure he attends the game alongside my wife and son. It’ll be special to have them there.”
Bhupinder understands the abysmal lack of South Asian representation in the referee community, and hopes that his example serves an inspiration for people of different backgrounds to take refereeing as a viable career option. Bhupinder started learning the tricks and trades of his job at the age of 14.
“Hopefully, this is another moment to help inspire the next generation to sign up to a refereeing course and get into officiating. My dream has always been to reach the top of the game, be a role model for future officials and encourage more people from diverse backgrounds into officiating, especially from a South Asian background just like me.”
Howard Webb, the former EPL referee and the current chief refereeing officer of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, was elated over Bhupinder’s appointment, stating it will set up good examples for people of Non-English origin.
“Bhupinder’s appointment to the Premier League and the best league in the world will show an even greater audience about what’s possible for people from different backgrounds. It will give other British [South] Asian boys and girls an opportunity to see
somebody who looks like them doing something that they thought wasn’t possible for them previously,” Webb said.
Lead Image: @Premier League