First Sikh-Punjabi heritage match official in Premier League history

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Bhupinder Singh Gill (right). Insert: With fellow match officials from the family

Bhupinder Singh Gill will become the first Sikh-Punjabi heritage match official in Premier League history when he serves as an assistant referee in Wednesday’s high-stakes relegation clash between Southampton and Nottingham Forest, reports The Telegraph.

The 37-year-old is the latest in his family’s well-established tradition of match officials – he is the son of former referee Jarnail Singh, who in 2004 was the first Sikh referee to take charge of an English Football League [EFL] game, and to do so wearing the traditional turban.

Bhupinder is the brother of Sunny Singh Gill, who earlier this season became the first South Asian heritage British referee to take charge of an EFL game, since the brothers’ father last did so in 2010, the report added.

“Its recognition for him as an individual,” chief refereeing officer Howard Webb told Sky Sports, adding that Bhupinder deserves his opportunity as he prepares to become the first Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee in Premier League history tomorrow.

Webb, who took over at the referees’ organisation Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) on Dec 1, has included Bhupinder — a PE teacher who has been a referee since he was a teenager — as part of the new fast-track development system for referees, reported the Telegraph.

It added that Jarnail Singh, a Metropolitan Police community support officer, was a hugely significant figure in British refereeing and took charge of around 150 games between 2004 and 2010 in the EFL. Sunny Singh Gill was promoted into the EFL this season and has become a regular in League Two.

“This has to be the proudest and most exciting moment in my refereeing journey so far, but I’m not getting carried away as it is just another step in the direction to where I want to get to,” Bhupinder told the newspaper. “My family is also really proud and excited for me. I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for my dad, who has supported me throughout my journey and been a role model for me. He’s taken leave from work to make sure he attends the game alongside my wife and son. It’ll be special to have them there.”

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