Bhupinder Singh Gill to become Premier League's first Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee

Bhupinder Singh Gill will become the first Sikh-Punjabi to act as an assistant referee in a Premier League match when he runs the line in Wednesday's fixture between Southampton and Nottingham Forest at St. Mary's Stadium.

The 37-year-old will follow in the footsteps of his father, Jarnail Singh, who became the first turbaned referee in English Football League history when taking charge of more than 150 matches between 2004 and 2010.

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Bhupinder's brother Sunny, became the first British South Asian to referee a league game since his dad when he took charge of a League Two clash between Northampton and and Hartlepool earlier this season.

"This has to be the proudest and most exciting moment in my refereeing journey so far, but I'm not getting carried away as it is just another step in the direction to where I want to get to," Bhupinder Singh Gill said.

"My family are also really proud and excited for me. I wouldn't be in this situation if it wasn't for my dad, who has supported me throughout my journey and been a role model for me. He's taken leave from work to make sure he attends the game alongside my wife and son. It'll be special to have them there."

Singh Gill's appointment has been cheered by Howard Webb, the chief refereeing officer for Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which oversees refereeing in England. Webb, a former Premier League official who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, left the same role at the Professional Referee Organization for Major League Soccer to return to England in December.

"First and foremost, I'm delighted that Bhupinder has been given this appointment in the Premier League -- for him as an individual, and for the recognition of the talented and dedicated official he is, having worked his way through the levels," Webb told Sky Sports.

"Bhupinder's appointment to the Premier League and the best league in the world will show an even greater audience about what's possible for people from different backgrounds."

Singh Gill, a PE teacher and dad of two who regularly officiates in the EFL, is part of the 28-strong new Elite Referee Development Plan (ERDP), established to improve the standard of refereeing and give opportunities to more officials from diverse backgrounds.

"Hopefully this is another moment to help inspire the next generation to sign up to a refereeing course and get into officiating," Singh Gill said.

"My dream has always been to reach the top of the game, be a role model for future officials and encourage more people from diverse backgrounds into officiating, especially from a South Asian background just like me."