National referee Angelo Doyle has been dealt a heavy hand by COVID-19, but he continues to forge ahead and has every intention of making the FIFA list next year as he reinvents himself.
Doyle recently completed officiating at the Concacaf Under-20 Men’s Championship in the Dominican Republic (DR). But that was not his first international rodeo after being baptized at the Caribbean Football Union’s (CFU) Boys & Girls Challenge Series held in August also in the DR as part of a four-man Bajan delegation.
The 28-year-old said there was a vast difference between the two tournaments as the CFU tournament included more Caribbean officials, and the Concacaf tournament was faster-paced.
“In the Under-14 tournament there were more persons speaking English and I had teammates from Barbados with me, so I felt some comfort with it being my first international tournament. On the other hand, the Concacaf Qualifiers were different because there were more Spanish-speaking persons, and there were referees from across the entire Concacaf region,” he said.
He also admitted while he had some trouble with his Spanish and the conjugation of some verbs, it was a fair exchange as he helped some of the referees with their English, and they assisted him with his Spanish, which also blossomed into lasting friendships.
Doyle said he was able to make a smooth transition into the refereeing sphere at the Concacaf tournament and both the teachers and assessors were very helpful.
“You have to constantly be hungry for more. You just can’t say ‘I did well here so I don’t need to do any more training’. I came home and I was thinking about what the next phase is? I’ve concluded in preparing for the next phase it won’t be as easy as the previous phase,” he said.
The financial advisor said he was currently reinventing himself with regards to training, his diet, and other refereeing habits.
“Training here in Barbados and then going to another country to train, there are major differences and factors that affect your performance. Here I am really putting in more effort and trying to push myself, while at the same time avoiding injury so that hopefully next year I am selected to be on the FIFA list or continue to be on the Concacaf list. It is easy to say ‘I am not training today’, but you have to maintain that overall discipline,” he said.
He added: “During that time I intend to train myself to do a much more intense and difficult fitness test so that I can be ready for when that time comes to become an elite referee. I have not been nominated as yet for the FIFA list, but I am looking forward to next year”.
Doyle began playing football at seven years old under the instruction of Coach Tony Jarvis. He went on to play with Clarke’s Hill in Division 3 but decided to focus on his studies after leaving the Christ Church Foundation School and entering sixth form at The Lodge School.
He explained he got into refereeing after completing his degree and was in between jobs. He recalled he was in the patio at home watching a game on Chapel pasture in St Philip when he saw Premier League referee Terry Butcher in action.
“It just came to me. I am not doing anything currently, I need to keep fit, so why not try to be a referee? From seeing him I signed up and in September 2015 I received an email to do the course. Since then I’ve applied myself and continued with it,” he said.
Earlier this year, Doyle resigned from his job in the hospitality industry as he decided it was time to branch off and challenge himself to move forward. He said he pursued a financial advisory course and also does voluntary work at St Mark’s Co-operative Credit Union in Blade’s Hill, St Philip. Shortly thereafter he received news that he had been selected to officiate at the tournament in the DR.
“My work is speaking for itself. However, I know I must continue working to get to the World Cup stage. That is one of the goals I have. But one step at a time; I need to get on the FIFA list, make it as an elite referee and then officiate at a World Cup. There is also after the World Cup as I won’t be young forever. I would like to continue working with football because football has been there my entire life. I think it is best to continue there because I like what I do. I don’t just see it as a job, and I think once I keep working and performing everything will work out,” he said jubilantly.
However, Doyle said he like everybody else had been affected by the global pandemic, mentally and physically.
“Because of the restrictions that started because of COVID-19, the training schedule was changed so we couldn’t do as much training together, and then football stopped. In terms of going to the gym and having the needed nutrients to ensure my performance, that was affected as well because the hotel sector was badly affected and income wasn’t coming in. Continuing into this year, it was really a struggle after the first tournament in August. When I came back I caught COVID in September, and shortly after that, but before I got the call to go to the DR, my dad passed away from COVID, so it has been hard, but I continue to push through,” he said.
“I try to look to the future before I put my foot into something, so that is how life has progressed for me. So far all my hard work has paid off, and I will continue to put in the work to ensure it does. Once things go well locally and regionally next year, I hope to be performing in football still,” he declared.