International referee Jerome Damon has called time on his illustrious refereeing career to pursue other interests. Damon, who made his refereeing debut in the 1996/97 season, informed the South African Football Association (SAFA) on Tuesday (17 June) of his decision to hang his whistle. The Cape Town-born whistleman said it was not an easy decision to call time on an occupation that had become part of his life for the past 18 years. “After a very long introspection, prayer and consultation, I have decided to call an end to my active duty on the SAFA national panel of match officials after having first made my rookie appearance in the 1996/97 season,” said Damon.
The former Premier Soccer League Referee of the Season said his decision was motivated by two main factors – inability to train regularly and with the same intensity expected of the modern match official and pressing issues at his school where he is an educator. Damon was Referee of the Season in the 2004/05 and 2008/09 seasons. He was also stand-by referee for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ in Germany and got a run in the FIFA 2010 World Cup on home soil.
He was a familiar face on the African continent as he handled the 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 Africa Cup of Nations matches. “I have certainly enjoyed every single moment of serving on this county’s highest panel as, first, an assistant referee and then, as a referee. I have made many friends along the way and cherish numerous memories – certainly too many to accurately document here. But the most memorable one is being able to represent South Africa on many international tournaments around the world, the climax of course, being the 2010 FIFA World Cup, right here in South Africa. I want to thank everyone involved in forming my refereeing career from my late dad through to every assessor and commissioner (locally and internationally). I especially want to thank the SAFA President and the NEC for rubber-stamping every opportunity that I was given,” said Damon.
The Capetonian will now focus more attention on his career as an educator but did not completely rule out future involvement in the beautiful game. “With the ending of one chapter, comes the opportunity to write another. I do believe that there is still a lot for me to do in the refereeing world and I look forward to the next challenge, the next opportunity to serve. Football has left an indelible mark on my life and I hope that in some small way I have left a mark in its books,” he concluded.