Seven years ago, I was sent by the International Federation of American Football to officiate in the World Cup, Duisburg, Germany.
It was the most amazing thing to be selected and “sent”. Waiting to go out into the stadium for my first game was incredible. There were drums in the stands. The other officials were savouring the moment. It seemed so huge and perfect and the players were just like our players in Australia. In fact, the Australian team was competing.
Looking back, I felt pretty well focussed and effective on the field at that time. However, since then, it has been different. I’m not sure why. It was not as if I talked about it a lot or sent media releases about it to the local papers. I was stunned, I guess, in many ways.
It was a dream come true, that I could never have imagined for myself. The Australian officials were in a small hotel close to the Stadium. We mixed with officials from Sweden, Germany, Italy, France and Spain who were also staying there. The hotel managers were incredible. Everything was perfect.
Around the stadium it was like a fair. Other sports included Dragon Boat racing, which we enjoyed in our spare time. Not that there was a lot of spare time. We did manage to go by bus to the city one day, individually. It is quite a nice city, Duisburg, if somewhat quiet.
Peter Springwald was overseeing the officials. He held meetings and briefings. We took photographs. Everyone had done this hundreds of times before – uniforms neat, boots polished, hats in shape, whistle to hand, flags, bean bag, socks, belt, undershirt ready to be packed. Business clothes to wear to the stadium were pressed and ready. Shoes were neat. We shone!