Bhupinder Singh Gill created history after becoming the first-ever Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee to officiate a game in the English Premier League. Gill was posted on the line for the fixture between Southampton and Nottingham Forest at the St. Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday, January 4.
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The 37-year-old comes from a family which has a history of great referees. Bhupinder’s father Jarnail Singh refereed in more than 150 English Football League games between 2004 and 2010 and became the first official to wear a turban in a professional game in England.
Like his father, Bhupinder’s elder brother Sunny Singh Gill is one of the most senior referees of South Asian origin in England. Earlier this season, Sunny became the first British South Asian officiate since his father in a League Two match when he took charge of Northampton vs Hartlepool in League Two.
Talking about Bhupinder’s life outside football, he is a Physical Education teacher and father of two. Gill is part of the Premier League’s Elite Referee Development Plan (ERDP) which was set up last year to improve standards of officiating. The program also helps officials from under-represented backgrounds to break into the game’s highest levels.
Bhupinder was extremely elated with this opportunity and deemed it to be the ‘proudest and most exciting moment’ of his career. He said, "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."
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"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," he further continued.