Eleven new referees were turned out last Thursday night when they graduated from the latest Referees Recruitment drive put on by the Barbados Football Association. Coming under the tutelage of Member Association FIFA Instructors Trevor Taylor and Sherlock Wall and FIFA Referee Gillian Martindale, the new group are expected to hit the ground running as the FA continues its search for the best officials.
Coming to the end of an eight-week programme, the seven men and four women were the first local officials to have undergone the new format of the Referees Recruitment Course which previously took the form of a one-week condensed course. Delivering a lot more content over the time, Taylor said during the graduation ceremony that the new recruits were exposed to the highest level of introductory instruction available and he urged them to keep working hard. “This course was the first of its kind and it will continue in this format. Three months of hard work. You were exposed to what I was exposed to at the level of CONCACAF – on-field training, video analysis and tests on laws of the game – and this is the way forward for all referees. Even though the graduation is now, you have done some hard work in preparation for the exams and preparation for your matches, but the work has now begun.” he said.
Going on to highlight several of the participants, especially Nigel Marshall who topped the class, Taylor asked the new referees not to be daunted by negativity and to work towards the ultimate goal of officiating at a FIFA final, stating that if they put in the work, they would reap the rewards. “The BFA is working towards advancing talented referees. Hopefully, as long as we can see or identify talent within you, you will be fast-tracked to the highest level. First to premier and hope to get elite status and move on to the international panel.” Taylor said.
BFA General Secretary Edwyn Wood, himself a referee graduate from a previous crop, encouraged the new officials to maintain their standard and dignity as it was not an easy job. “I'll be very frank. Refereeing is not easy. If you do a bad job, you will get cursed. If you a good job, you still get cursed. So get used to it. What you have to do is practice, understand the laws of the game and make sure that you are consistent. Even if you make a mistake and you are consistent, people will understand, but you have to be consistent.” he said.
With it mentioned that there would be some further adjustments and improvements for next recruitment drive in January, Wood echoed the sentiment of Taylor but said that said that the job was not for the timid but once it was taken seriously, there were benefits to be derived. “The BFA has made some dramatic changes to the refereeing programme. We had some meetings recently and this will see the development of a new Referees Development Programme Our aim is to get a FIFA referee participating in the finals of a regional or international tournament by the year 2022. This development plan includes development in areas such as retention, training and assessments. It's going to be diverse and it's the Bible for us to follow for how we are going to develop our referees for the next five years.” Wood said.