Monday, September 8, 2008


Being a referee for any sports match is not easy especially when trying to ensure a game is played fairly and rules are followed. For Nardeo Mishra, having a courageous heart is what makes a good referee.

Born and bred in Sabeto, Nadi, Nardeo grew up in a farming family. His parents were Vishnu Datt Mishra and Phul Kumari. Nardeo wanted to be a pilot when he was younger but a plane accident in Bua sometime in the 1970's discouraged him from flying again.

"I grew up with my extended family and we had a sugarcane farm. Most of the time we did vegetable farming but I enjoyed helping my father and cousins in the farm.

"It was a hard life but my parents made sure we had food on the table and a roof over our heads," he said. "I am the eldest of five and when we started school we didn't have the luxuries many have today. "Back then, we had to walk two kilometers to school everyday on the dusty roads. We didn't have shoes and our school bag was the sack for flour. "I got my first pair of shoes when I was in Form Three. Even the houses then were bure type and there was hardly any concrete house around."

He attended primary school at Sabeto Indian before continuing his secondary education at Shri Vivekananda High.

Soccer career

His soccer career started when he was still in school representing his primary and secondary school at various soccer competitions. After high school and still managing his time well in between school and soccer practice, Nardeo continued his tertiary education at the University of the South Pacific.

He completed a Diploma in Science and began his teaching career at Labasa Sangam College, All Saints and Bhawani Dayal in Nasinu. "At the same time, I continued to play soccer even when I was teaching in Labasa. I was transferred there in 1974 and I started playing in the Bulileka team and was selected in the Labasa team.

"I played with Jimmy Zoing, Gordon Leewai, Hussain Saheb and Brian Simmons. I also represented Tailevu Naitasiri team in 1977 and took up refereeing in 1978. "My first major break as a referee was in 1979 when I refereed at the South Pacific Games in Suva.

"For me, that was my first international exposure as a referee. I like playing soccer and I find that it is a good way to relieve stress, tension and worry." Being a referee never came easy for Nardeo and he started off as a linesman for soccer matches.

Spending three years as an assistant referee as linesmen are called now, Nardeo started his training as a referee from class three level and slowly but surely made his way up to attain a class one level referee status.


Nardeo was considered one of the top local soccer referees at the time. The experience over the years was the kind of exposure he needed to reach the top.

"I had the opportunity to visit countries like Australia, New Zealand, America, Tahiti and other Pacific Island countries. "I managed the national team when they won gold at the 1991 SPG and the Melanesian Cup win in 2000 in Fiji. "I had some very good memories and some very nasty ones during my refereeing career. To be a referee, you must have a courageous heart and you must stand by your actions.

"If you are fit and know the laws of the game, then you should not have any problems. Never try to take sides and listen to the crowd, officials or players. "Be friendly but firm and respect everyone. Try to learn from your mistakes and don't think you know everything." He said using cards is not a good way to control a match.

While the former FIFA referee finds the job demanding, he has left a trail of successes to inspire and motivate those who want to take up this profession seriously.

Adpted from Fijitimes Online