Hakan flies the flag for Australia at the Olympics
(This article was publsihed on the Goal Weekly website at www.goalweklly.com.au on Thursday 26 April 2012. The photograph of Hakan Anaz appears by courtesy of Anita Milas, FFV photographer of the year and winner of the Les Shorrock award in 2010 and 2011).
Australia will be represented at the Olympic Games football tournament even though neither the men’s or women’s teams has qualified.
Hakan Anaz from Melbourne along with Ben Williams and Matthew Cream will officiate in the United Kingdom when games are played all over the country in July and early August.
It is another highlight in the career of one of our best and most enthusiastic referees whose parents came from Turkey in 1968.
Hakan was born in 1969 and played the game from an early age.
When he got into his early twenties he decided he was not going to make it as top-class player, but was very keen to continue to be involved in football.
He was dissuaded from coaching by a friend who said you will finish up being a bus driver, so chose to try refereeing and found he enjoyed it.
He graduated through the lower divisions to the National Youth League, where I first encountered him, and the Victorian Premier League.
It was obvious he had the talent for refereeing.
He is firm and decisive in his decision-making, is sensitive to the flow of a game and is able to relate to players and what they are experiencing.
He benefited from the decision of the Australian Referees’ Association to fast-track talented young officials and joined the A-League panel when the competition started.
His primary role there is as Assistant Referee, formerly linesman, where his judgment is continually tested by critical decisions on offside and whether a ball has crossed the goal-line.
He received his FIFA badge and has refereed 18 international matches and 20 games in the Asian Champions League, which he describes as the highlight of his career so far.
As part of that elite panel he has just returned from Myanmar (Burma) where he was struck by the friendliness of the people he met despite the widespread poverty in the country.
“It certainly puts things in perspective,” he said, and “You realise how very lucky you are that your parents made the decision to come to Australia and allow you to have these opportunities.”
Married with two children, he appreciates how they have supported him as he has pursued his refereeing career.
His employer is also supportive allowing him the flexibility to continue his other profession, though this means using his long service leave this year to appear at the Olympic Games.
You get the sense that this is not a sacrifice on Hakan’s part!
He and his colleagues have one great advantage going into this tournament.
Since the Australian teams are not taking part they will be judged solely on performance and will not be ruled out of the final stages simply because their country is taking part.
In 1994 I watched Eugene Brazzale and Gordon Dunster take charge of the opening game in the World Cup in the United States and they got several more games on the basis of their performance.
It would be wonderful if Hakan and his colleagues could emulate their predecessors or even go all the way to the final at Wembley Stadium in London on 11 August.