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Chris Penso, Eric Boria and Mark Cahen: An introduction to the ISL

Oct 13, 2014

By PRO officials Chris Penso, Eric Boria and Mark Cahen

Namaste from India! Eric, Mark and I are slowly getting acclimatized to the weather and time change as we enter our sixth day here. 

We all arrived in Mumbai during the early morning hours on Wednesday, around 4am. After a short nap, we were up and ready to go for the two-day training seminar led by FIFA Instructor Noboru Ishiyama, from Japan.

The seminar consisted of classroom and practical field sessions covering topics such as dealing with star players, use of vanishing spray and communication devices, offside interpretation, and tactical fouls. 

The Indian referees have welcomed us with open arms and are eager to learn as they have never used the vanishing spray or communication devices. They value our experience in these areas and we equally value their willingness to learn in return.

After a couple of very long days in Mumbai we took the two and a half hour flight from Mumbai to Kolkata  (Calcutta) to begin our preparations for the inaugural match of the Hero Indian Super League between Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City, in the famous Salt Lake Stadium - the second largest stadium in the world. 

Colonel Goutam Kar, head of the AIFF, traveled with us and, after checking in to our hotel and settling in, we were taken to the stadium for a field inspection and training session. Stadium preparations were continuing and many were eager to see us North American referees on the field in a short training session as word was beginning to spread around the country that we had been assigned to the opening match. 
Sunday came and match day was upon us. After a light breakfast and final meeting with the Colonel, we got one last bit of rest before having lunch and heading off to the stadium behind our Kolkata police escort. 

We arrived at the stadium three and a half hours early to ensure that all preparations for the inaugural game went off without a hitch. After the field inspection we returned to our locker room while the Olympic-esque opening ceremonies were conducted to the delight of 70,000 spectators. 

Following a walkout that would give anyone chills, the match started at a frantic pace with three fouls in the first 80 seconds and the first caution of the match coming in the second minute. The match had a storybook feel to it with three stunning goals for the home team, the third of which came in the last seconds of the match, which fans left happy and excited for the season ahead. 

It was a historic moment for the Hero Indian Super League and we were honored to be a part of it. 

After another police escort to the airport this morning, we have arrived in Goa and have already begun preparations for our next match between FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC on Wednesday. The hospitality has been top notch as we continue to make ourselves at home and adjust to the culture. 

We look forward to the days ahead and will update all of you shortly!

Next Super League assignment: Penso, Boria and Cahen will officiate FC Goa versus Chennaiyin FC on Wednesday, October 15.

Click here to see more images from India, on the PRO Instagram page

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