Liberian Teenager Referees with World Cup Card

14-year-old Isaac from Gbarnga, Liberia can be found refereeing football games in his home country wearing an oversized Fifa kit and using none other than Howard Webb's yellow card from the 2010 World Cup.  

Isaac has been passionate about football from a young age.  He met coach Timothy "Gapsi" Kromah when he was 9-years-old watching players warm up for a training match by his home.  Isaac had attached plastic to a stick to use as his "flag," putting it up each time the coach blew his whistle for a foul.  Gapsi was intrigued by the child and approached him after the game.  It was then that Gapsi learned Isaac's story - his father had died and his mother was disabled, unable to walk for even five minutes, leaving Isaac relatively alone in the poor community he lives in.  

Gasp decided to take Isaac under his wing.  He invited the boy to come to the team's practice the following day.  He told his players, "This man you see, he will be your head from today. Anybody disrespect him, you disrespect me. So everything he tells you to do, do it, or you will not play on the team." Over time the coach saw Isaac's improvement and decided to test him refereeing adult football.  After ten minutes, Isaac proved himself and his knowledge of reffing to the men.  He began to referee bigger games, even the biggest high school game in the country.  

Gapsi has a bright future for Isaac in mind.  "I see him go far, like Howard Webb, the great Howard Webb of England. I see him maybe exceeding Howard Webb, because that's his role model. He said he wants to be like Howard Webb, or even more than Howard Webb." Due to his young age, Isaac is not allowed to officially ref anything bigger or further away.  Gapsi has tried going and registering him to the Liberia Football Association, but they could not help him.  

A journalist from BBC heard about Isaac's story through a friend who is currently an aid worker in West Africa.  The journalist decided to reach out to Howard Webb, Isaac's idol, to share the boy's story.  Webb was moved by the story and put together a package for Isaac.  Included in the package was one of Webb's Fifa kits, a copy of his book, the actual yellow card he used in the 2010 World Cup Final, and a note wishing Isaac all the best for his refereeing career.

Isaac was thrilled to receive the package.  "I prayed by Almighty God today, when I received these gifts, that I will be standing with Howard Webb one day and that we two can interact," he said. "I will tell him thank you for his gifts, and I would like to take some advice from him for the rules of the game."  

They are hoping to one day get Webb out to Liberia to meet his biggest fan in person.  Until then, the now 14-year-old will be reffing matches around his hometown for his $5/game wage to support his family while proudly wearing his new gear and, of course, using his prized yellow card.  

For more on the story follow the link below:

http://www.bbc.com/news/stories-43241996