Man of rules

Playing by the rules… FIVB Referees Instructor P. Margalingam (extreme left) gives tips to referees during the National Championships in Chennai.

The passion that the FIVB Referees Instructor, Parthasarathi Margalingam, has for his job is unmatched. “I really love reading the rules and applying them,” he says in a chat with K. Keerthivasan.

The Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) believes that there is nobody who knows the rules of the game as well as Parthasarathi Margalingam. And Margalingam, the lone FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) Referees Instructor from India, knows he is very good at his job.

“I really love reading the rules and applying them,” he says.

Margalingam has a very special place in the VFI's scheme of things. In fact, just four months after undergoing a heart bypass surgery, he was requested by the VFI to be at the National championships — sub-junior, junior and senior —and update the referees about the amended 2009 FIVB rules. As a true professional, Margalingam promptly agreed.

“I was sceptical initially but I was able to do a good job. VFI took good care of me,” he says.

Currently Margalingam, who is also the Chairman of the All-India Referees Board, keeps track of the development of referees in India and suggests ways of improving refereeing. At the Senior National Championships in Chennai recently, the 67-year-old instructor conducted a clinic for referees. His interest and enthusiasm impressed the young referees a lot.

“He is very sincere and goes about his job in a professional manner,” says Ramana Rao, Director, FIVB Development Centre.

Born and brought up in Bangalore, Margalingam worked as a Manager in the Indian Telephone Industries for 35 years where he was a fairly good volleyball and basketball player. He started his refereeing career in 1969 at the State-level tournaments and slowly graduated to the international level. The 1992 Asian junior championships was his last as an active referee. In October 2010, he was the referee delegate for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Despite officiating in many international tournaments, Margalingam's crowning glory came when he was nominated as the lone referee delegate for the World Championship qualification tournament in Chennai in 2005. “It was a great feeling as I was controlling all the foreign referees. Even they said that I was thorough with the rules. It was satisfying,” he says.

Mentoring comes naturally to him, and he has his own views on the young crop of referees. “There are quite a few talented and hard working referees in India, but of the lot I like Beny Coonghe of Chennai the most. He is the most knowledgeable referee I have come across. He is very thorough with the rules,” he says.

According to Margalingam, the Indian referees are in no way inferior to the foreign ones. “We only need to learn constantly and keep updating our knowledge of the rules,” he says.

Margalingam still has one mission left. “I want to become a member of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Refereeing Commission. Nearly 15 referees from different countries are members. That will be the pinnacle of my career,” he says.