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Walking the footsteps of Matthew Taro

This week another journey begins for Jackson Namo who is taking his first step in what is believed to be a long and ardours road to the apex that Taro reached in June 2010. Namo left earlier in the week to attend the FIFA Futuro refereeing course in Auckland, New Zealand but all his energy will be reserved for the FIFA U20 World Cup which he will be officiating in in Colombia.
This is the first time for Namo to be appointed to officiate in a FIFA competition and he is relishing the opportunity.
“I really look forward to the U20 world cup because that will be the highest I have reached in my refereeing career. My aim is to go as far as Taro went so this is a big step towards that goal for me,” Namo said in an interview with the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) media office last month.
“Taro has set an important example for all of us referees in Solomon Islands. We can be among the best in the world if we are dedicated and we do what is required,” Namo said.
At first glance Namo does not appear to be the ambitious man who is trying to break into the world scene. In real life, he is a soft-spoken gentleman whom one could have passed off without effort as just another cog in the football machine. However, a few questions will release the energy within that is powering his current ambition to go as high as possible in refereeing.
Hailing from Are’are in the southern region of Malaita, Namo is a teacher by profession. Balancing his profession and his passion for football is something that only he can explain but he says that everyone should enjoy something else besides work.
“My interest in refereeing is quite demanding. Sometimes I have to travel overseas and when I return work has piled up and of course I have to be fit so regular running and strength training is a must,” Namo says.
Namo will be travelling to Colombia as part of the refereeing trio which includes Peter Oleary of New Zealand and Ravinesh Kumar of Fiji. People in Solomon Islands will remember O’Leary as a member of the Oceania trio that Taro was a part of in the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, so simply put Namo is in good hands.
However, Namo is no new kid on the block and he has been active in top class refereeing locally for the last 4 years but in total he has 8 years of experience behind him. He features regularly in the local leagues and also in the Telekom S-League, the highest football competition for clubs in Solomon Islands.
In addition, Namo has been appointed numerous times to officiate in regional competitions including the O-League and more recently the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U20 Championship, which was the regional qualifying competition for the FIFA U20 World Cup.
The man who has witnessed Namo rise through the ranks right from the very start is SIFF referee development officer, Justin Mutukera. Mutukera expresses full confidence in the ability of the Namo to rise to the top.
“Jackson is a hard worker and he tries to learn as much as he can. I think his appointment to officiate in the FIFA U20 World Cup is a breakthrough for him and I am confident that he will do well and make a good name for himself and for Solomon Islands,” Mutukera says.
“I remember that when he started he showed great enthusiasm and we quickly noticed that he had good potential so I am happy that he has achieved this. I believe that he has the ability to reach and even surpass the record set by one of our pioneers, Matthew Taro.”
The FIFA U20 World Cup will kick off on 29 July. Namo will depart with his team after the completion of the refereeing course in Auckland on July 19.

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