Oguz Isik gave an insight into his development and experiences so far in refereeing.
Name: Oguz Isik
When did you qualify as a referee?
I qualified as a referee in 2010 in Turkey but have been officiating in the UK since 2017.
What are your early refereeing memories?
After completing my referee course, the only thing I knew was the Laws of the Game. We had a brief practical session about the basics like how to use a flag and the whistle. However, when I walked onto the pitch for the first time as a referee, I realised that applying these laws on the pitch requires lots of additional knowledge and experience. The memories of my first game are still crystal clear in my mind. I was on the line and thought I did very well in the first half. When we got back to the changing room, the referee and observer gave me a 15-minute short course on assistant refereeing and I have kept that observation report.
Have you faced any challenges and how have you overcome them?
I have always aimed to reach the highest level I can reach, setting clear short-term and long-term targets for myself. During my last season in Turkey, my short-term target was to gain promotion before moving to the UK so that I could continue my progress. I was devastated when I learnt my promotion was denied just because I was moving to another country. At that time, I seriously considered quitting refereeing. However, after a very busy year with my MSc study, I really missed being in the middle and refereeing games of football. I still felt the same passion I felt when I first started refereeing and I believe mental recovery is the key to overcoming challenges.
Do you have any career highlights to date?
In 2016, I was selected as one of the young referees representing the Turkish Football Federation in Sweden's prestigious international youth football tournament, the Gothia Cup. I officiated the U17 final game, which was a great experience. Another career highlight is my recent mid-season promotion to Level 4, which became my third consecutive promotion in the last two and a half years.
What skills have you learned through refereeing?
Whilst some skills such as confidence and decisiveness are considered essential to be a good referee, I think the ability to assess own your strengths and weaknesses is the most valuable skill for a referee. It is impossible for a referee to find their style without recognising their own skills. In other words, refereeing taught me how to take advantage of my strengths and how to be less affected by my weaknesses.
Why did you take up refereeing?
I was 20 when I started and initially it was not my decision to be honest. I was a very passionate football player and fan but had never thought about becoming a referee until my father asked me an interesting question: “why don’t you think about refereeing?”. At that time, I was very busy with my engineering study and could not find any spare time to play competitive football, so it was a great way of staying involved in the game. Although I initially did not like the idea of refereeing, it was becoming more and more appealing to me after understanding the importance of having a ‘fair’ referee for a ‘fair’ game.
Who is the biggest influence on your refereeing career?
I can name two referees that have had a big influence on my career. The first one is the great Pierluigi Collina. I have always been impressed by his ability to express his feelings on the pitch without being rude or weak. The second is Cuneyt Cakir, whom I am proud to have met personally in Turkey. He is a humble, mentally strong and calm referee. I always try to switch between these two styles while refereeing, depending on the expectation on the pitch.
What are your future goals and ambitions in refereeing?
Since I started refereeing, I have always had ambitions to progress and set targets that help to keep me on track. However, unlike my first years as a referee, I am now more focused on reaching the next step and doing my best in each game. My current motivation is to reach the professional level in refereeing.
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