6 Feb 2010

Two NZ referees get chance to make footballing history

11:55 am on 6 February 2010

It won't just be the All Whites representing New Zealand at this year's football World Cup in South Africa - two New Zealand referees have been selected by the sport's governing body FIFA to take part in the finals in June.

Either Peter O'Leary of Hamilton or Auckland's Mike Hester has the chance to make history by being the first New Zealander to control a game at the finals, after making the cut among a pool of 30 referees named by FIFA.

O'Leary's a teacher at Hillcrest High and will be taking leave to become a full-time referee for the World Cup.

He found out he was heading to South Africa early this morning after his young son woke up, he put him back to bed then thought he should check the FIFA E-Refs website, where he found his name.

His wife wasn't that impressed when he told her - she said "well done" then rolled over and went back to sleep.

O'Leary and Hester now face further testing and training before the 30 officials are split into 24 match referee and six reserve official roles.

New Zealand linesman Brent Best and Jan Hintz are also heading to the finals.