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When most youngsters prefer to run on the field, tackle the ball and score goals, Ahmad Arif Hakimie decided refereeing was more his cup of tea. 

Nineteen-year-old Arif is the youngest referee at the Allianz Junior Football Camp (AJFC) Malaysia League East Coast Region competition. His love for football started when he was 11 when he used to play the game with his friends. However at a tender age of 16, Arif decided to follow the footsteps of his father by pursuing the role of a referee instead.

“It’s not easy to earn the respect of the players since we are close in age. But I am firm and strict and they know I mean business. Sometimes, it is disheartening when the players are angry and not happy with our decisions. However on the hindsight, this has taught me patience and tolerance when handling difficult players and aggresive games” said Arif who is pursuing his diploma/degree in manufacturing design at Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara. 

Arif started off as a fourth official where his main tasks include making sure all players wear their bibs, recording all yellow and red card offenders as well as movements of players in and out of the game among others. Now with just three years under his belt, Arif is an assistant referee. His role is more technical now as he monitors offsides, makes decisions on goal kicks and corners as well. He has to be focused and vigilant at all times. 

Arif hopes to step up as a main referee by the end of the year and aspires to one day be a national referee.   
“I’ve learned a lot. And it gives me great confidence, because being promoted assistant referee means I am doing a good job. It’s also a plus that I get my start with a youth-based competition like AJFC and get to witness the next crop of young players that could one day very well grace the big stage. And I hope I would be alongside them officiate the match,” added Arif with a laugh. 

The Allianz Junior Football Camp (AJFC) Malaysia League 2017 will take place between 18 March and 20 May 2017 at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi (Central region); Padang 10, Kompleks Sukan Hang Jebat, Malacca (South region); Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang (North region); Padang Majlis Perbandaran Kuantan and Kolej Islam Pahang Kuantan (East Coast region) and Padang Sukma, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (East Malaysia region). This year’s league format will remain an 11-sided affair played for 70 minutes.

The regional selection panel will then select the top 18 players from each region to form five regional teams that will compete in the Regional Finals. Following three days of centralised training, the five teams will go head to head to determine the winner at the Grand Final on 15 July 2017. At the culmination of the Grand Finals, 13 players will be selected to attend the AJFC Asia in Bali, Indonesia. At AJFC Asia, the best three players will be selected to attend AJFC in Munich, Germany.

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