Football: Dallas Cup date for Dorset-based referee Lewis

Bournemouth Echo: BOUND FOR THE USA: Referee Lewis Sandoe BOUND FOR THE USA: Referee Lewis Sandoe

HIGHCLIFFE referee Lewis Sandoe has been selected to officiate at this year’s Dallas Cup – one of the world’s most prestigious youth football tournaments.

The 20-year-old, who regularly takes charge of matches in the Wessex League as well as assisting higher up the non-league pyramid, will be one of eight up-and-coming officials from around the UK to fly out in April.

Sandoe, who first took the whistle for his sister’s junior matches at the age of 14, emerged from 30 other potential candidates in a development group for referees in the south-east region to line up in the United States.

The renowned event, which helped launch the careers of England internationals Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley, has been won by Liverpool and Brazilian giants Sao Paulo in the past decade while Fulham’s under-19s lifted the top prize last season.

Selection is viewed as one of the ultimate accolades for aspiring officials with Sandoe particularly pleased to don the famous three lions when he makes the trip over the pond.

He told the Daily Echo: “It was the one tournament I always wanted to go as a referee as it is quite well known and prestigious.

“Wearing the three lions is seen as a badge of honour reserved for the elite referees. It’s unbelievable to get it because very few people in the country are allowed to wear the three lions.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got picked. I thought the guy I went up against pretty much had it in the bag so it was a surprise and I was over the moon when I found out.

“To be asked to go out and represent the Hampshire FA is quite a privilege and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Despite enjoying the playing side of the beautiful game, Sandoe chose to follow in his father Craig’s footsteps by taking charge of his sister’s junior matches.

And now, with the world at his feet, Lewis harbours hopes of progressing into the professional game “I have played football all my life but had to make a choice at 17 which route to take,” he added.

“To be honest, I am a much better as a referee than a footballer. I knew I could make the higher grade by refereeing so I made that decision and, so far, it is going well.”

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