IT was a night for the Aussie whistle-blowers when match officials Ben Williams and Allyson Flynn received the top gongs at the AFC Annual Awards in Kuala Lumpur overnight.
Williams was named AFC Referee of the Year and Flynn was crowned AFC Women’s Assistant Referee of the Year at the glittering ceremony.
The referee awards recognise match officials who have flown the Asian flag high and upheld the spirit of fair play during the past twelve months.
Williams, who has taken charge of well over 100 A-League matches, saw off the challenge of last year’s winner Yuichi Nishimura from Japan and Bahrain’s Nawaf Abdulla to claim the individual accolade.
“This is a fantastic recognition to be amongst the elites of Asian referees by becoming the best referee of Asia,” Williams said after receiving his award.
“I am very, very humbled and honoured with this award and it will further spur me to continue working for the beautiful game of football.
“There are several top referees in Asia and it’s really nice that you are recognised as the best.
“I am sure this is a great achievement not only for me but for the whole of Australian football. I advise youngsters to keep being humble and continue learning if they see great future and excitement in this profession.”
Flynn claimed the female individual accolade ahead of compatriot Sarah Ho, the 2011 recipient, and Naomi Teshirogi of Japan.
The 31-year-old received the award in recognition of her sterling displays officiating at the 2013 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship finals in China as well as the qualifiers for next year’s AFC U-16 Women’s Championship.
“I'm so happy to win this award” Flynn said.
“To me, this award also belongs to Sarah Ho, a fellow Australian nominee, because she's also an exceptional match official and we always travel, train and work together,” said Flynn.
“I'm sure this award will be good for refereeing in Australia and will inspire Australians to play the game and to be involved in refereeing. This award will promote not only the game but also refereeing in our nation.”
Allyson and Sarah Ho have also been selected for the Men’s AFC Elite Assistant Referees panel and will be considered for AFC Cup appointments in 2014. They are the first female match officials to be selected on a referee’s panel for men’s football in the AFC.