Monrovia-His career took a flight to greener pasture when the referee committee of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) took a brave decision to name Johineo Morris as the man, who will officiate football’s finals between Nimba and Lofa, in the national county sports meet on 15 January.  

The newly-renovated Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) sports complex was jam-packed when Morris and team matched from the tunnel to kick-off the match. 

This was a huge decision for a referee, who has been officiating in the community and women’s divisions.

Morris certainly didn’t disappoint the referee committee after it decided to expose young referees to such a big occasion.

He received a standing ovation and questions are being asked whether he’s a FIFA-badged after his performance in a tournament where match officials have been brutally criticized for all the right or wrong reasons.

Morris is a graduate of Noah’s Ark High School in Gardnersville.

Morris says he was inspired and tutored by a former referee, Rev. Christopher Marshall of the United Methodist Church, in 2018.

“In furtherance of my development, I attended the LFA intermediary referee training course through the advice of my mentor, Rev. Marshall, in 2020.

“As a Class B referee, it was a big assignment for me to be chosen for this year’s county meet when we have several senior referees (FIFA-badged),” he recalled.

Like a player, who has committed a tackle in the penalty area but doesn’t know what card he will receive, Morris knew his selection would have elevated or demoted his career.

“This was an important moment as it was my biggest test. I have heard that the county meet is a political tournament. So, I knew that I needed to perform well or forget about refereeing. 

“I was relaxed during the final because I just needed to officiate in keeping with the laws of the game and apply common sense where necessary but my most critical match was the quarter-final between Maryland and Bong Counties.

“The atmosphere, coupled with the prestige of the league, caused a little apprehension for me, but as always, I manned up and did what was considered my best.

“Similarly in the final between two great counties with quality players, I knew how many persons were praying for me to not disappoint them because the whole country was listening to or watching the match. 

“Participating in the tournament and handling two essential matches was the greatest assignment accorded me by the referee committee and I’m grateful for that.

“This has given me more reasons to enhance my ability and push better to be among the next group of Liberian FIFA-badged referees. I want to thank all those who chose me for the finals,” Morris told LFA media as he beamed with smiles.

The LFA exposed several young referees during the county meet like it did at last year’s national third division play-offs.

Joseph Tweh officiated three games during the preliminaries in Bong County and the semi-final between Bong and Nimba Counties at the SKD.

Samuel Zeon handled two preliminary games in Grand Bassa

County and the third-placer between Margibi and Bong Counties at the SKD.

Moses Johnson was in the middle of the park when Nimba defeated River Cess 3-2 after regulation and extra time during the quarter-finals at the SKD.

And Woodrow Wilson was an assistant referee for three games in Lofa and the third-placer at the SKD.