Peter loves life as man in middle

Man in the middle Peter Nurse is now certified by world governing body, Fifa
Man in the middle Peter Nurse is now certified by world governing body, Fifa

A St Helens referee has become one of the youngest officials to be elevated to Fifa’s world list.

But don’t expect to see Peter Nurse taking charge of a Premier League match any time soon because the 33-year-old specialises in a variant of the beautiful game called futsal.

Wildly popular in South America and parts of Europe, the game is similar to five-a-side but includes a number of subtle difference which promote creativity and technical excellence among its players.

Aficionados of the game even claim its promotion among young players could be the key to unlocking England’s potential as a footballing giant!

Peter, of Kipling Grove, Sutton Manor, only started reffing futsal exclusively three years ago but has already risen through the ranks and is now officially sanctioned as a FIFA referee.

He said: “I had just come out of university, and just started working and had a desk job which meant I was sitting on my backside for eight hours a day.

“I was never much of a player but I wanted something to keep myself fit so I got involved in 11-a-side games and was refereeing in the St Helens Combination and then got to North West leagues.

“The same colleague who got me interested in refereeing was refereeing futsal in Manchester and he introduced the game to me. I went and researched it and the game appealed to me.”

A business analyst for a software company, Peter’s rapid rise through the ranks culminated when he was nominated to become a Fifa referee.

After a series of exacting assessments, Fifa’s refereeing panel sanctioned his promotion. It means Peter can now take charge of European and international games.

He said: “Before I got involved I didn’t really know futsal existed, I didn’t even know it was a thing you could do but as I progressed getting on the Fifa list was definitely something to aim for.

“I made a decision three years ago now to give up 11-a-side refereeing and focus on futsal.

“England are playing Sweden at the end of February down in London so I’m appointed to that. Going to officiate at a big tournament or the World Cup would be a ultimate goal.”

Peter discovered he’d successfully made Fifa’s list shortly after the birth of his first child, daughter Erin. And futsal, like football and fatherhood, presents many different challenges, together with the odd perk.

He explains: “It is a much faster game, with a very different style of play. Some of the discipline problems you might see in an 11-a-side game, you don’t really see in futsal.

“Because the game is so quick there’s no time to have a go at the referee!”