Miss World Singapore finalist is a football referee

She is a self-professed vain pot. But Miss Dalreena Poonam Gill has had to put aside her vanity for her passion.

As a football referee, she cannot leave her finger and toe nails long, and cannot paint them.

She is also in the sun a lot, although she knows that being exposed to strong sunlight for too long is bad for her complexion.

Telling The New Paper that being a referee has been "my dream all my life", Miss Dalreena added: "I'm willing to sacrifice the little things for that."

The 20-year-old is a qualified referee and handles mainly school football matches for now. She is the youngest of only three female referees here.

She is training with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to get a higher referee certification, which will allow her to officiate in S-League matches.

She also plans to go further and become a Fifa-qualified referee.

From being the decision-maker on the field, Miss Dalreena will now be subjecting herself to being judged at the Miss World Singapore finals next Saturday.

She admits to being vain from a young age. On her second birthday, she wailed when she was not taken to do her hair at a salon.

Her family still makes fun of that and mimics how she stopped crying the moment she sat on the salon chair.

Speaking to The New Paper, Miss Dalreena said she is respected by players despite being a minority in the predominately male arena.

She said: "It takes a while to earn the respect as a female referee, but then we're not treated differently from anyone else. The players don't make sexual jokes or play around."

Miss Dalreena's father, retired referee M. Ganesan, was one of the main reasons behind her passion to be a referee.

She said: "I used to watch my father's matches when I was young. I remember being fascinated and in awe of the referee's ability to bring justice to the match. I told myself that I wanted to do this in the future."

Mr Ganesan was a former Physical Training Instructor in the army and a former referee trainer under the FAS. He is also a Fifa fitness trainer.

Though he warned her about the difficulties of the job, Miss Dalreena is thankful her father has always been fully supportive of her choices.

"He told me that even some men find the training difficult and asked if I was sure I had wanted to do this. Even though I don't play the game, I was absolutely certain."

Miss Dalreena started referee training at 18 and trains for two hours every weekend. She holds a Class 3 referee licence, which is the most basic one.

She admitted that it has not been physically easy. 

She said: "It's true, the males are generally biologically stronger. I was the only female in that particular intake so I had to work doubly hard to pass our fitness and theory tests. I remember running five laps around the track every day to get stronger."

MANY HATS

The 1.71m-tall lass works part-time as a customer service officer and is studying for a diploma in counselling studies at Kaplan. She admits it is tough juggling her responsibilities.

"I would wake up at 6am and go to work till 1pm. Then I go to my match in the afternoon and from 7pm till 11pm, I'm in school studying. By the time I get home, I'm exhausted. But it feels good to be productive."

Now, she has to add preparations for the Miss World finals to her packed schedule.

Besides working out to tone her body and perfecting her catwalk, Miss Dalreena said she is most afraid of the question-and-answer portion of the show.

She said: "It's difficult because you have to give the answers on the spot but I'm doing my research online and trying to expand my knowledge."

It almost seems as if she has more than 24 hours in her day. She said: "I don't mind struggling now so that I won't regret it later in life.

"I've always believed that once you start something, you just have to keep going, if not you'll lose your momentum."

ABOUT MISS WORLD SINGAPORE

The Miss World Singapore 2014 coronation will be held at One Farrer Hotel and Spa next Saturday.

Eighteen women have been chosen to compete for the beauty queen title.

Aged between 18 and 27, the contestants will be judged on several components - a swimsuit segment and a cocktail dress segment.

The final five will then go through a question-and-answer segment, after which a panel of 10 judges will pick the winner.

The winner will get $3,000 and a gold coin worth $5,000, among other sponsorship prizes.

Zingshot Productions will also award one-year talent grooming contracts to three finalists.

Besides the grand title, the girls can also win five other titles - Miss Personality, Miss Popularity, Miss Crowning Glory, Miss Photogenic and Miss Body Beautiful.

Ticket sales for the event start at $5,000 per table.

melodyng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 03, 2014.
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