BENGALURU: The Bangalore District Football Association’s Super Division league had a distinct German touch on Tuesday with the latest technology in use as NRI Vinod Dhanraj, an upcoming referee in Germany’s Bayernliga, officiated the match between South United and AGORC.
For the first time in the history of the Bangalore District FA, the line referees used the paging system to communicate with the main referee. “We used the referee paging system today. So each time the line referee raised his flag, I got an alert on my electronic armband,” Dhanraj told TOI.
The 31-year-old, who is working for a corporate in Germany, said he renewed his passion for football after completing his Masters in electrical power engineering from TU Darmstadt, one of the top institutes in Germany.
“Back in 2009, I had played in the final of the Rotary inter-college football tournament here where my college New Horizon ended runners-up to St Joseph’s college,” Dhanraj recalled.
“After that I could not be in touch with the sport. But once I began working in Germany I wanted to get back to football and that’s why I got into refereeing. Then I was spotted by a local club SSV Jahn Regensburg who supported me and I cleared seven levels to officiate in Bayernliga, a semi-professional league,” the former student of Clarence High School said.
First match in India
It was Dhanraj’s first match in India on Tuesday and the referee said his ambition is to emerge as one of the top officials from India. “I want to clear the tests in India so that I can officiate in ISL and I-league but for that I need to officiate in a minimum of 30 matches,” said Dhanraj, who lives in Regensburg, 125km from Munich.
The young referee said what is lacking in India, compared to Germany, is the infrastructure and professionalism. “In Germany, if you are late for a match, then you have to pay a fine. Refereeing is a hobby there and the best known referee there is also a lawyer,” said Dhanraj, who splits his time for work during weekdays and football refereeing during weekends.
Dhanraj said the current paging system in use is expensive and he is working on a different technology which will help in making it much more affordable. “From 800 euros, the plan is to bring it down to around 50 euros,” he said.
The German NRI, who is here on vacation, also said he is in talks with the State FA officials to help the local referees use the latest technology. “I’m ready to donate the paging system to the KSFA and to train the referees to use them even as embark work on the new affordable device,” he signed off.