UAE referee Ebrahim Al Mansouri is headed to his fourth Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup. Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: Growing up in a relatively peaceful part of Umm Al Quwain, Ebrahim Yousuf Al Mansouri had all the basic comforts and pleasures a child could hope for. Then there was football that gave him hope to one day help play for one of the clubs in the UAE, and even for the national team.

However, Al Mansouri always thought he was made for something more. Between training at the Al Arabi Club to completing a course for referees on the sidelines, the youngster managed to keep himself busy.

But, opportunities of officiating at football matches in the UAE weren’t all that rewarding. So when the UAE FA carried out a recruitment drive for beach soccer match officials in the run-up to the 2009 Fifa World Cup, Al Mansouri was among the handful making the grade.

Less than a decade later, Al Mansouri will be the only UAE referee holding the distinction of officiating at four Beach Soccer World Cups. “It’s been a fulfilling career so far. I doubt anyone, including me would have thought that I would one day have this unique record,” Al Mansouri told Gulf News on the sidelines of the 2019 Dubai Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup that concluded at Jumeirah’s Kite Beach last week.

“When you love something then you give it everything you’ve got. And this has been my case so far. Today, when I think about my life I think about the legacy that I am leaving behind for my children and my family.

Al Mansouri made his international debut at the 2011 World Cup in Italy. His progress was so quick that two years later, Al Mansouri was awarded the third place play-off match in Tahiti. A crowning achievement came at the 2017 edition of the World Cup held in the Bahamas where the UAE referee officiated the final between world champions Brazil and Tahiti.

“To me that achievement was the height of my career and I couldn’t ask for anything better than this,” he said.

Last month he received an appointment letter from the world governing body informing him that he will make the long trip to South America to officiate at the 2019 World Cup, that gets under way in Paraguay from November 21. “For the past few weeks I have been getting myself back into shape while trying to keep abreast of all the changes that have taken place in the sport,” Al Mansouri said. “Officiating at four World Cups is like a dream for anybody. But for me, this is a reality that I will live with for a lifetime.”