Sunny Singh Gill: Pioneering Sikh-Punjabi referee follows in ‘proud’ dad Jarnail’s footsteps in iconic EFL game
Sunny Singh Gill: Pioneering Sikh-Punjabi referee follows in ‘proud’ dad Jarnail’s footsteps in iconic EFL game

Sunny Singh Gill: Pioneering Sikh-Punjabi referee follows in ‘proud’ dad Jarnail’s footsteps in iconic EFL game

Jarnail Singh said he was more nervous than on his own EFL debut as he watched his son Sunny referee Northampton vs Hartlepool on a landmark day for refereeing.

Former Sikh-Punjabi League umpire Singh was beaming with pride after watching from the stands at Sixfields Stadium as his eldest son Sunny Singh Gill followed in his footsteps by taking charge of his first EFL match.

Until Saturday, Jarnail was the last British South Asian to referee an EFL match, having presided over the League Two clash between Yeovil and Oldham in 2010.

Jarnail told Sky Sports News: “I was probably more nervous than I was when I made my EFL debut, but I’m also a very proud dad today.

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Sky Sports News reports that Sunny Singh Gill will preside over Northampton Town vs Hartlepool United and become the first Briton from South Asia to referee an English Football League match since his father Jarnail Singh more than a decade.

“Enjoy the game and take it all in [was my advice before the game to Sunny].

“But I’m a really proud dad. Overall, I think he did well. He did what he was supposed to do with the warnings and stuff like that. Maybe there were some technical issues, which we’ll talk about on the way home – that’s if he wants to talk about it.”

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Sunny Singh Gill said he would bring something different before becoming the first South Asian to referee an EFL match since his father Jarnail Singh in 2010. Father Jarnail said he would referee the match with his son from the stands.

Jarnail added: “There is a lot of pressure these days [on referees in general]. There are cameras at every game, you get noticed at every game. It’s a multi-million pound industry and the pressures are enormous.”

Sunny’s EFL debut falls during South Asian Heritage Month and comes just over a week after fellow Sikh-Punjabi Roop Kaur Bath was handed a first-team debut by West Ham Women’s coach Paul Konchesky in -a pre-season friendly against Hashtag United aged just 16 years and 11 days.

Jarnail said the timing of the event brought a boost of “positivity” and also proved that British South Asians can compete at the top levels of the Beautiful Game – and be successful.

Sunny had a host of friends and family at the match to cheer him on at Sixfields Stadium, with one notable omission – his younger brother Bhupinder, who is himself an assistant referee and was working a Sky Bet Championship game.

last season, Sky Sports News revealed that Jarnail’s sons Bhups and Sunny Singh Gill have made history as the first pair of British South Asians to ever preside over a Championship match.

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Bhups and Sunny Singh GIll made history during Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest by becoming the first pair of South Asian match officials to officiate a Championship match.

Jarnail added: “I think the future is very bright, especially in terms of arbitrage and the funding and development opportunities that are available now. It was a passion for boys. They started refereeing and 10.13 years down the line, they’re both officiating at a pretty decent level now.”

Webb: Bhups and Sunny excelled

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World Cup Final umpire Howard Webb predicts big things for Bhups and Sunny Singh Gill

Former Premier League match official Howard Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, said Sky Sports News last year that Sunny and Bhups have all the necessary attributes to reach the top of their profession.

“I am absolutely delighted to see the progress that 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 and forth with their dad for a while, we worked together in the Football League. And Jarnail Singh, in addition to being a very, very good referee, is just a wonderful guy. It was always a pleasure working with him.

“They [Bhups and Sunny] they’re athletic, they know how to manage people, all these 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 survive, they excelled and I believe they will continue to do so.

“They both went through those tough yards of local football and then progressed through different levels and probably felt at one point they wanted to pack up because it wasn’t an easy day at the office, but they persevered through those tough times.

“I know their dad will be so proud. They have made good progress and are still on an upward trajectory. There is more to be done. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it every step of the way.”

British South Asians at football

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