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Like Father Like Sons

Like Father Like Sons
From left: Suresh Behari, and his sons, Ravitesh, Amitesh and Pravitesh who officiated in the Shop N Save NTC Futsal soccer tournament at the FMF Gymnasium yesterday. Photo: Rama
January 04
10:40 2015

It is not everyday sons follow their fathers footsteps, especially when it comes to careers.

However, for 60-year-old former Fijian number one and FIFA referee, Suresh Behari, his five sons have followed him as football whistlemen.

Suresh is one of Fiji’’s most successful referee having started refereeing for district games in 1987.

His first game being Tailevu/Naitasiri versus Lami in a B-Division clash.

He has featured in two Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) events.

He controlled the finals of FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Egypt in 1987, followed by FIFA Confederations Cup semifinal in 1999 between Brazil and Saudi Arabia in Mexico.

In 2000, he was the assistant referee for the All Stars game against Australia in the opening of Stadium Australia.

Suresh said if there had not been a retirement age, he would be still refereeing for international events.

“This career path I chose really took me around the world and around the Pacific, but all good things must come to an end,” he said.

“I retired at the age of 45 and I have to say if there wasn’t a retirement age, I would be still out there making my country proud and doing what I love.”

The one thing that has made him the happiest father was his five sons becoming qualified referees.

“When my sons were small and I would go to games, I would always take them with me,” he said.

“I think that is one of the reasons why they got into match officiating.

“It’s not that I wanted them to take up refereeing, they just got into it and I am truly happy they are doing something that I have always loved and enjoyed.”

Suresh’s eldest son Amitesh, 36, has refereed at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil (2008) and Thailand (2012) while second eldest, Ravitesh, 34, refereed the finals of the Pacific Cup between Amicale and Auckland City.

His other three sons, Alvin, 30, Kavitesh, 27, and Pravitesh, 24, have all refereed in local tournaments around the country.

“They have been doing so well, thanks to Fiji FA. I know they have played their part in my sons’ careers as match officials.

“I’ve e also played my part in helping them and supporting them and encouraging them.” he said.

Before Suresh’s interest in refereeing, he played football for Nasinu and Tamavua until he got married.

He then started playing for local clubs in Suva in 1978 which he describes as the peak of football.

“Back in 1978 that was the time when football in the country was at its best and I enjoyed playing the sport,” he said.

“When I got into refereeing it was meant to be for a while but then as I continued refereeing, soccer faded and I stuck to match officiating.”

Now that the New Year has started, most people make New Year’s resolutions for themselves but for Suresh his New Year’s resolution is that his sons have a successful year ahead.

“2015 will be a busy year for sports and I hope my sons will have a productive year,” he said.

“My sons who have not had any international exposure, I am hoping for them to get more time on the field so they can learn more.

“We are also hoping Amitesh gets his third FIFA Futsal World Cup call-up which would be a huge achievement for him.

“So we have a lot to look forward to this year and I cannot wait to see how my sons will progress.”





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