Sunny Singh Gill will take charge of Northampton Town against Hartlepool on Saturday and will become the first British South Asian to referee a league game since his father Jarnail over a decade ago.
Jarnail Singh is the first turbaned referee in English league football history and took charge of over 150 games across all divisions between 2004 and 2010. Jarnail retired from league refereeing in 2011 and now advises the Football Association, but still occasionally referees in the Combined Counties League.
Sunny is the longest-serving referee of British South Asian heritage in the country and joined top-ranked black referee Sam Allison in presiding over the League Two game between Swindon Town and Leyton Orient in April in a historic moment to officiate in English football.
Sky Sports News understands Jarnail Singh will be in the stands on Saturday to watch his son make his EFL refereeing debut.
There promises to be an added sense of celebration around the game, with the game taking place during South Asian Heritage Month, which ends on August 17.
Singh Gill: dreams of following in dad’s footsteps
Sunny said he was aiming for the Premier League after it was announced he would emulate his father after being promoted to the EFL’s national match referee group.
“To follow in my father’s footsteps and become the next South Asian, and Sikh-Punjabi, to be promoted to EFL referee is a proud moment,” he said. Sky Sports News.
“A decade after my father refereed in the EFL, I have fulfilled my dream and followed in his footsteps.
“It’s been a lot of work this year to train away from the pitch, to improve in each department with the help of the [refereeing body] PGMOL and my coaches.
“I now want to set myself more goals and fulfill my dream of becoming the first South Asian Premier League referee.”
Sunny is a prison officer at HMP Feltham and started refereeing aged 15 and news of his appointment comes just five days after fellow Sikh-Punjabi Roop Kaur Bath was made his first-team debut by the West Ham Women manager , Paul Konchesky, during a pre-season friendly match. against Hashtag United, aged just 16 years and 11 days.
Last season, Sky Sports News revealed that Jarnail’s sons Bhups and Sunny Singh Gill made history as the first British South Asian pair to officiate at a Sky Bet Championship match.
Jarnail said Sky Sports News in February that his boys give “110%” to reach the top of the game.
Webb: Bhups and Sunny excelled
Former Premier League match official Howard Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, says Sky Sports News last year that Sunny and Bhups have everything they need to reach the top of their game.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to see the progress Sunny and Bhups have made in the game. I’ve had my eye on them for a while,” Webb said.
“I’ve been going back to their dad for a while, we worked together in the Football League. And Jarnail Singh, apart from being a very, very good referee, is just a great guy. It was always a pleasure to work with him.
“They [Bhups and Sunny] are athletic, they know how to manage people, all those skills you need to be successful. If you don’t have them, you don’t survive in the professional game. These guys did more than just survive, they excelled and I think they will continue to do so.
“Both went through those tough local football yards and then progressed through the different levels and probably feel like at some point they want to pack their bags because the day at the office hasn’t been easy. , but they persevered through these tough times.
“I know their dad will be so proud. They’ve made good progress and they’re still on the right track. They still have a lot to do. I’m sure they’ll enjoy every step.”
British South Asians in football
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