Yiannis Zisis is no stranger to the pitch – he’s been around since 2008.

After starting as an assistant referee in the fourth national division in Greece, Yiannis decided to take his love for football and refereeing to his new home in Melbourne in 2012.

After much hard work, difficult conditions, and several obstacles, Yiannis managed to make it onto the NPL refereeing boards.

Now, the experienced referee enjoys the recognition of everyone in the Victorian football microcosm – and he’s even gone beyond the four lines of the pitch, working as a referee appointment manager for the children’s and women’s leagues.

But Yannis Zisis isn’t done yet – with the second national division in the works and Australian football on the rise, the Greek referee is determined to be a major player in shaping the future of the sport.

In a match between South Melbourne and Oakleigh Cannons. Photo: Con Deves

When we asked Yiannis about his nomination as the top referee of the past season, he said:

“My emotions are soaring! After ten years of life in a foreign country, where I had to learn a new language and face numerous difficulties, I am standing here, receiving raucous applause from a room full of people who shape our favourite sport in this country. This truly remarkable moment makes me feel like all the hard work and dedication has been worth it. It gives me the enthusiasm and inspiration to keep striving to be the best at what I am so passionate about. There is no greater reward than this”.

At Football Victoria’s evening of celebration, Yiannis Zisis was the star of the show, but five other referees of Greek heritage were also honored for their contributions to the 2023 season.

Astro Sakalis was presented with the award for Best Assistant Refereefor the second year in a row, while Daphne Gounaris was awarded the same accolade for the Women’s League.

Tina Zafiropoulou was recognized as the Women’s Futsal Referee of the year, and Makis Loukeris and Angelique Katsalas were honored as the Rising Stars of Refereeing.

He had to pull a few yellow cards this season.. Photo: Con Deves