FORMER M. Lhuillier Jewelers of Cebu hero Randy Estremos is making a name for himself in Macau, China, but not on the football pitch.
The 53-year-old former midfielder of the multi-titled Jewelers of then-coach Graeme Mackinnon is now a FIFA/AFC referee instructor in the former Portuguese-owned but now Chinese-administered “gambling City” of Asia. The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is the international governing body of football associations while the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football in Asia and Australia.
He is the only Filipino referee instructor in Macau and just recently passed the Futuro III Course for FIFA/AFC referees held in Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 26-31.
“It is an honor to be the only Filipino referee instructor here in Macau. I never thought that a provincial referee from Cebu would be a referee instructor abroad,” he said.
Estremos started as a provincial referee in Cebu in 1993 when an injury ended his football career. In the span of six years and combined with lots of hard work, he then climbed through the ranks and became a national Class 1 referee in 1999.
He then became a licensed FIFA assistant referee in 2002 when he passed the FIFA course for assistant referees in Malaysia. After then he became a regular fixture in Asian football officiating various matches in the region including his unforgettable stint in the quarter finals game between China and Iran in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha Qatar.
It was during this stint that he was discovered by a Hong Kong official and offered him a job in Macau as a referee. From then on, he was a regular in the Macau FA League. Through his hard work and knowledge of the game, he was promoted as referee assessor last year and now a referee instructor, the only Filipino instructor in Macau.
Estremos grew up in the football hotbed of Cebu, near the San Roque parish football field in Wireless, Mandaue City. It was there that he honed his football skills which earned him a scholarship at the University of San Jose-Recolotes.
He played under then USJ-R coaches Mario Ugarte and Jaime Sison. He was then picked by MLhuillier Jewelers coach Graeme Mackinnon where he became a starter.
The Jewelers then dominated the local tournaments in Cebu and punctuated their sterling performances with the capture of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) National Championship in 1988 in Iloilo. They defeated Negros Occidental, then represented by Victorias Milling Company, in a penalty shootout to capture the title.
Estremos scored one goal during the tournament in their 1-0 win over the Philippine Navy.
The Jewelers were considered by Cebuano football community as heroes after their victory. They almost duplicated their feat the following year when they reached the final again against Negros Occidental in Dumaguete City. Unfortunately, their star goal keeper, Gemini Sitoy, broke his collar bone during the match and they eventually lost the title. Estremos was also a member of the squad.
The Jewelers celebrated the 25th year anniversary of their victory in 2013 with most of the former squad members and the now retired Graeme McKinnon. The affair was highlighted with the presence of their patron Michel Lhuillier and his wife Amparito.
Estremos has three children with his wife Ma. Filipinas. His eldest Rafael is a graphic designer while his only daughter Abigail is a graduating architecture student at the Cebu Institute of Technology-University (CIT-U) while his youngest son Rex Ian is in Grade 5 at the Lahug Elementary School also in Cebu City.