Having returned earlier this month with fellow FIFA Futsal Referee and NSWFRA member Andrew Best from officiating at the Futsal Asian Cup 2022 in Kuwait, Ryan Shepheard was kind enough to provide NSWFRA with some amazing insights into his recent refereeing adventure.

Ryan had the honour of refereeing the exciting final, contested by Japan and Iran. Please enjoy his wrap-up below.

It was a significant honour to firstly be appointed to the AFC Futsal Asian Cup in Kuwait. After a number of years of delay due to the pandemic, it was great to see the return of elite futsal in Asia.

The tournament represented the most prestigious futsal competition in Asia and was played between the 16 qualifying countries.

Having two referees from Australia selected in the final group of 20 officials was recognition of our performances in AFC competitions.

Pre-competition preparation included a fitness check and practical and theory sessions.

The refereeing team came from across the various zones in Asia and throughout the tournament we worked in mixed teams speaking a variety of languages.

Off the pitch we trained together each day. A fun game of beach volleyball on the rest day created some fun for the group. Our own competitive ways coming to the forefront as battled away on the sand. An enjoyable swim in the Persian Gulf helped us cool after an early 7am start.

Personally, I had the opportunity to referee the home nation, Kuwait against Iraq in their final group stage fixture. A passionate home crowd made for an exciting atmosphere. With the match winner qualifying for the knockout phase, the game was highly competitive. It was memorable experience as it highlighted all the positive elements of futsal.

Being appointed to referee the final between Iran and Japan was an honour for me and one that I was extremely appreciative in receiving from AFC. Both competing countries are powerhouses in Asian futsal and bring technical skills, athletic ability and physical technique to their games.

As referee for the biggest final in Asian futsal was very rewarding and memorable. After being a FIFA and AFC elite referee for over a decade, it was a career highlight to be on the pitch.

To celebrate my appointment, Besty shouted dinner for the both of us at a fine seafood and steak restaurant. We dined on a delicious steak in a traditional Arabic dhow accompanied with a fine bottle of red wine. Of course, the wine was alcohol-free given the laws within Kuwait.

These little moments are the special ones shared with a close friend which are always memorable beyond the pitch.

Overall, the tournament was very successful for us both and one where we proudly represented NSWFRA and Football Australia.