Tokyo, Japan, November 12, 2010 – He may be the youngest referee at the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan, but the importance of the tournament is certainly not lost on Slovakia's Juraj Mokry.
Slovakian referee Juraj Mokry is the youngest official at the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan
The 35-year-old is whistling at his first senior World Championship competition and has so far officiated in nine matches, five as first referee and four as second referee.
"It was a surprise when I received this news," says Mokry of the moment he discovered he would be travelling to Japan for the competition. "It is an honour for Slovakia, it is over 20 years ago since the last time [a Slovak] Vladimir Kovalik refereed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He was one of my teachers and he congratulated me."
Refereeing was not always Mokry's role in Volleyball. Up until 1998 he was a promising player for the Slovakia junior side. But an ankle injury meant he diverted his focus to officiating and he was first nominated for an FIVB tournament in 2001. Since then he has overseen the 2005 FIVB Boys' Youth World Championship in Algeria and the 2007 and 2009 FIVB Men's Junior World Championships in Morocco and Italy respectively.
But despite his experience, the former middle-blocker is always keen to learn and regularly exchanges tips with Dutch referee Frans Loderus whom he looks up to.
"It's [refereeing] not easy," Mokry adds. "When I started I always looked at other refs, even now I look at other refs to see how they do things."
And the hardest thing about officiating matches? "Fast decisions, making them as correct as possible," Mokry says. "Don't give up if something goes wrong. Every tournament is like being at school. You have to gain experience and be patient. There are a lot of referees at the same level so patience is key. Try to do your best every time and show the teams your are there for them, not to destroy the game."