Participants and officials of the FIFA Referees Assistance Programme, which came to an end yesterday.

Referees urged to lift the standard

Close to 30 of the island’s football referees and referee assistants are now better armed to officiate given the ever-changing face of the Beautiful Game.

That is because they successfully passed through the recently-held FIFA Referees Assistance Programme, which was facilitated by the Barbados Football Association. With the five-day course aimed at national referees under the FIFA programme, its main purpose was to track their development and disseminate new information from governing the body

Coming to an end yesterday with a small graduation ceremony that saw 16 of the officials on-hand to receive their certificates, FIFA Instructor Peter Prendergast told the attendees that the five days had allowed for an intimate insight into what was necessary for progress.

“The President has indicated a mandate to the referees in terms of trying to get to a higher level within a specific time. The information that we shared with you during the course of the last five days gave an insight as to some of the requirements necessary to achieve that objective. You have capable hands here to assist you in obtaining those heights,” he said.

Prendergast noted that although the course has ended, he expects the work of the referees to continue.

“We want, however, referees, especially the younger referees, and we’re charging you with this – we want to see, in very short order, the efforts being made. Reap some fruits. If you continue to do three and four games a week, you will not make it. Training must become a part of your preparation,” he stressed.

FIFA Fitness Instructor Joseph Taylor echoed his colleague’s sentiments, stating that both technical and fitness aspects need to work in tandem to produce the best officials and that Barbados needs to get the mix right to see their referees make it to the top.

“As Peter said, there’s always a lot of work to be done and to complement what is done technically, the fitness aspect has to be improved on. It has been clearly identified here [that] we really want to go to the next level, and we hope that we can get the people to work on getting that task correct,” Taylor said.

Barbados Football Association President Randy Harris added that he agrees with both instructors, and he had words of encouragement for the referees.

“What I am hearing today, I think is relevant to what we want to achieve as a football association with the referees. It is clear that the foundation of being of a good referee is fitness. I recognise that everybody that comes and volunteers and wants to help us as a referee is doing for service of community, but we need people at the higher level. I want to challenge you all today, those who aspire to make it to the top, to work on yourself. Coming once a week, doing matches on a three-by-four ground, that is not going to help. You have to take it seriously, work on your fitness and it is going to show. It is going to show here first at Wildey and people are going to recognise that,” he said.

Harris then went on to remind the referees of their role and importance in the grand scheme of things.

“You are very, very important to the game, because without you what will happen? What will be the standard of our football here in Barbados because we are here for the game. And I want you to help football in Barbados by aiming for a very high standard of refereeing. Once you take it to that standard, the recognition is going to be passed on to the players,” he said.

Referees Manager Mark Forde told The Barbados Advocate that the course was a timely and crucial one as there is currently a push for both female and young referees to come to the fore.

“We had about nine females out of 27 participants for the course and this is very good. We are hoping that this will assist us in developing our women’s programme, which we will be spending a lot of time on this year, as well as our Fast Track Programme, because we are looking for the younger referees so that we can fast track them through the system because this course is primarily to deal with the top-level referees and prepare them for World Cups. With the new Member Association Instructor that we have in Trevor Taylor, we expect that we will be able to produce, hopefully, an official to represent Barbados at the 2022 or at the 2026 World Cup,” Forde stated.

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