Cup ref rewarded for hard work
Referee Jan-Hendrik Hintz has got a vote of confidence from FIFA, football's international governing body.
He's got the call to go the World Cup starting in Brazil in June.
It will be the Papakura resident's second World Cup. He debuted at the last one in South Africa where he was a member of the Oceania panel that reffed South Korea's match against Greece and were the reserve officials for the England v Algeria match.
Hintz's Oceania team-mates this time around are fellow Kiwi referee Peter O'Leary and Fiji assistant referee Ravinesh Kumar.
Hintz says his selection is payoff for a lot of hard work.
"I guess I was quietly confident but I didn't take it for granted.
"It's a relief to know and reward for all the hard work and commitment that I've put in on and off the field.
"My family and employers have sacrificed a lot for me to go."
He, O'Leary and Kumar will be out to make every post a winner, he says.
"The first aspiration will be to get a game. We want to do well in that game so as to make it difficult for them to overlook us for another game.
"So it will be one day at a time, one game at a time even.
"What I've learned - and this is not necessarily from personal experience but from what happened to other referees - is you do need a little bit of luck."
Hintz is fitter than he was four years ago. He has put in a lot of work at lunchtimes to meet the requirements.
"Fitness is very big part of the selection process," he says.
"The criteria has increased since the last World Cup and that's fair enough because the players are getting fitter and faster.
"They're wanting the referees to keep pace literally and metaphorically."
Hintz's training was as rigorous as it was demanding. One test required him to complete each leg of a set of six 40m sprints in under 5.6s.
"That was followed by an interval test where we had to run 75m in 15 seconds then walk 25m in 20 seconds.
"We had to repeat that 40 times."
Hinz rates refereeing the under-17 World Cup final between Columbia and Switzerland in Nigeria in 2009 as his biggest match to date.
He says he's far more relaxed about being the man in the middle nowadays.
But the pressure to make the right call is always there.
"To expect to go through any match without making a mistake is unrealistic.
"I guess what we try to do is get the big decisions correct and minimise mistakes as much as possible because not making a call is a decision in itself," he says.
- Manukau Courier
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