Bamlak Tessema: ‘I could happily quit after refereeing a FIFA World Cup match’

ADDIS ABABA – August 16, 2019 – FIFA international referee since 2009, Bamlak Tessema, 38, is one of the most celebrated A-listed football referees in Africa. He is a married father of two and a trained physician and assistant researcher at Armon Hansson Research Institute, which focuses on doing researches on infectious diseases.

Bamlak has had the privilege of officiating highly rated matches at various international competitions, including one of the semifinals at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt – the match between Senegal and Tunisia.  That is why he is considered one of the best things to happen in this contemporary era of Ethiopian Football that is entangled in doom and the gloom.

“Even though, I had a wish to become one of the best referees, I have to be honest with you to tell you that I had never imagined being where I am today,” Bamlak said about his tremendous leap towards the summit of refereeing in the continent.

The Sacrifices 
“Coming to this level is not an easy thing by any means. As the saying goes, ‘there are no gains without pains’ you have to sacrifice something physically, emotionally and economically to meet your natural call. I have suffered a lot in all of these, to reach where I am today. I missed chances to advance my education, declined higher positions, unable to have time for family and friends. However, I have no regrets at all. Because I love what I do, I love refereeing.”

The Happiest Moments
“The years 2018/19 are the best without a doubt. I had been given the chance to officiate at FIFA U-17 World Cup, chosen as a fourth referee at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, led at Africa Champions League and Confederation Cup finals, went to the FIFA Club World Cup and also the AFCON 2019. It sometimes feels like I am dreaming, when I think about all these.”

Fourth official Bamlak Tessema Weyesa uses his LED board to show a substitution, as Filip Kostic of Serbia prepares to be substituted on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Costa Rica and Serbia at Samara Arena on June 17, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Memories from AFCON 2019
“Algeria vs Ivory Coast was my toughest game in the tournament. I believe Algeria were the deserved winners. Personally, my best player was Algerian Baghdad Boundejah and the best referee was Mostafa Ghabral from Algeria. It was so far the best organized tournament all in all, and I had the best experience.”

The FIFA World Cup 
Bamlak’s ultimate goal in his career is to officiate at the FIFA World Cup Finals. He even dared to say, “I could happily quit my refereeing career after leading a match at FIFA World Cup Finals.” Qatar 2022 is the place where he believes his dream will come true.

Robel Bamlak Tessema
Bamlak Tessema is not the only famous name in the family. His 9-years-old ‘scientist’ son, Robel, is also a household name to most Ethiopians, courtesy of his outstanding knowledge about space science. Considering his deep understanding and affection for science at his early age, which he has demonstrated on his multiple TV show appearances, Robel is going to be the next big thing the Tessema family will give to the world. However, not in football.

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