AUCKLAND – Mike Hester’s impressive performances with the whistle during the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament have been rewarded with an appointment to the semi-final between Nigeria and Belgium.
Hester was part of an Oceania trio of officials – also including Tevita Makasini (Tonga) and Michael Joseph (Vanuatu) – that had strong showings in two group stage matches, but will support a Chilean trio by acting as fourth official for the semi-final.
The first of Hester's two group matches, between USA and Netherlands, was played in front of 45,000 fans and finished in a 2-2 draw with the Netherlands equalising in the last minute.
Hester took centre stage again for Korea v Honduras, refereeing the match – won 1-0 by Korea – while Makasini and Joseph worked as his assistants.
He then took the role of fourth official for the Brazil v Cameroon quarterfinal and will again perform the role for his Olympic semi-final.
A Lieutenant Commander in the New Zealand Navy, Hester only picked up the whistle in 2001 but is already one of New Zealand’s most respected officials, refereeing age-group and senior internationals along with a host of New Zealand Football Championship matches.
This season will be Hester’s second as a reserve referee for the A-League, with the highlight of that involvement the appointment to the Wellington Phoenix’s exhibition match against the LA Galaxy, late last year.