Local soccer linesman has sights set on the big leagues
Jeff Au's goal is to referee major league soccer
Some of the top amateur soccer players in the country are in Newfoundland and Labrador taking part in the Challenge Trophy and Jubilee Trophy tournaments — and top national players require top referees.
Among the officiating staff working the lines is 22-year-old Jeff Au of St. John's.
Au says he's always had his sights set on calling games at a professional level.
"My main goal is try to make to the major league of soccer," he said. "That's where I would like to end up."
This week, he's getting experience working as an assistant referee calling the lines for the highest level of soccer in the province.
Au is also getting help from a colleague.
On Thursday, he worked alongside longtime official Geoff Gamble, a referee who's worked with Major League Soccer for five years. Gamble told CBC News he's racked up a lot of travel miles this season.
"I've hit almost 70 flights this year," Gamble said. "I do a lot of travel."
Gamble's been calling games for more than 20 years.
"It's really great for us as senior officials to come out to some of the these events," he said.
"Help mentor some of the younger officials. It's always nice to give back to the system. It's almost the pay it forward-type scenario."
And it's the kind of help Au certainly welcomes.
"It's really great. Geoff Gamble gave a lot of helpful information, a lot of helpful tips and it helped my game today," he said.
Earlier this year, Au travelled to Texas for the Dallas International Soccer Festival, a great experience for the up-and-coming referee.
This week's hometown event will wrap up Au's soccer season, but he said the work doesn't stop there.
"Hard training back in the fall for fitness tests and hopefully next year brings something good."