After taking the decision to follow his dream in 2008, Robert Sibiga hasn’t looked back, and his decision was rewarded when he earned a full-time referee’s contract at PRO.
He’s enjoying the current MLS campaign, although that’s not all too surprising – by the end of August, he had already eclipsed his tally of games from last year. After three assignments in 2015 and 19 last season, the Week 26 match-up between New England Revolution and Orlando City took him to 20 for 2017 – and he’s far from done yet.
While Sibiga is improving his minutes spent in the center with each passing week, he’s always searching for ways in which he can better himself during that time on the soccer field too.
“The season is going great – it’s very eventful and successful so far. Last year was a record breaking year for me, this season’s even better and I’m looking forward to every game. It’s a great experience.
“I like to set myself goals that have nothing to do with anybody else, so I just want to improve on what I did last year, or the caliber of games – that was basically the idea.
“After the first year you can reach that second-year slump, and I wanted to make sure that never happened to me. I work extra hard in terms of fitness and preparation for every single game to make sure that’s not the case.”
Speaking at a recent camp, Sibiga praised the training from PRO, with their vastly experienced staff proving hugely beneficial, especially for the Polish-born official who is still developing as a center referee in MLS.
It’s not just the tuition at camp that helps his learning – there’s also the discussions with his fellow professionals, and he’s willing to listen to anyone who offers their advice.
“Going to these camps and hearing your peers’ point of view on certain situations is where you benefit the most,” Sibiga continued. “However, there are often times where the professional would tell us one thing and as the conversation evolves, other referees may think otherwise.
“The professionals are great with this by allowing us to have these conversations instead of saying ‘no, this is the way to go’ and that’s important. I’m always interested in getting feedback, and that doesn’t necessarily have to come from people with certain positions. I don’t mind listening and hearing what other people have to say.
“We want to make sure that what we do, and sometimes it might be unpopular in the fans’ point of view, is according to the Laws of the Game and according to the advice that we get from the MLS and PRO.
“So I like to be active and I like to hear what other people say. It doesn’t impact my understanding of the game. But we not only do this for the coaches and the players, we do this for the fans, and they play a very big role in this.”
Sibiga’s endeavor and perseverance have brought about promotion within PRO, and he was keen to highlight these benefits have only come because of an industrious approach to his profession.
“With hard work comes reward and, when it was announced to me that on August 1 I would be promoted to the full-time position, I was very happy about it.
“It just proves to me that I need to continue working hard because with every promotion comes certain expectations, and being a full-time referee at this point will no longer allow me to make silly mistakes.
“There is a reputation that I have to uphold with all of the other guys who are also referees in the leagues. I don’t want to disappoint anyone or make them feel like they made a mistake, so it’s definitely something that is going to be playing a role in my next games this season and seasons in the future. I want to prove that people made the right choice.
“That’s going to involve even more work and dedication, and thankfully with 100 per cent family support that I get, I can focus on this, and that to me is crucial. Without family support, and without understanding how much this involves, I don’t think anyone can be really successful in this environment.”