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BFA referee skills programme shows early signs of success

Uefa technical instructor Alan Snoddy, right, and PGMOL fitness instructor Simon Breivik on island to take referee course. At centre is North Village president Shervin Dill

The Bermuda Football Association’s fledgeling referee skills programme has shown early signs of success and may well prove the ultimate solution to the perennial shortage of officials on island.

Inspiring and driving the local governing body’s recruitment efforts and reform is BFA second vice-president and referee committee chair Crenstant Williams.

Following a December road show and recruitment drive, which visited several of the Island’s public and private schools to outline the benefits and opportunities associated with becoming a match official to young males and females, an eight-week, BFA-sanctioned course was commenced at Warwick Academy.

Twenty-six students took part in the now completed course under the instruction of Alan Snoddy, a Uefa technical instructor and former Fifa World Cup finals referee, and Simon Breivik, a Professional Game Match Officials Ltd fitness instructor.

“The programme has so far been a great success,” said Williams of the initiative. “We had 26 students that participated at Warwick Academy and we’re hoping to get into other schools in the near future.

“The roadshow involved Berkeley, CedarBridge, Warwick Academy, Saltus and we’re looking to get into MSA and possibly Bermuda institute for September to see what we could do.

“Basically we’re trying to change the narrative of the situation to potential referees by demonstrating how refereeing can take you places.

“There are more opportunities to travel internationally, to represent Bermuda, to earn income, but the main thing is that you can now become an international referee and go to the World Cup and the Gold Cup, which is the standard for the programme’s referees.

“Opportunities abound to go to a Youth World Cup, a Women’s World Cup. We now have three Fifa accredited assistant referees and one person also has a Concacaf badge, making him eligible to officiate at international matches to a certain level, with the current goal being to get him on the Fifa list so that we have a complete team.

“The youth are the future and we want to show them that this is what you can potentially do.”

Williams highlighted the Caribbean Football Union Under-14 Challenge Series as a competition to which the BFA has previously sent referees and had them feature in the finals on more than one occasion.

“We have established a high standard and reputation for our officials overseas and we want to continue to raise their levels of refereeing expertise, while continuing to bring youngsters into the fold.”

Williams recruits and accepts those as young as ten, allowing participants to gain greater in-depth knowledge of the rules of the game, as well as serve to keep vulnerable, at-risk children away from trouble.

“I try and get them involved as young as possible because, for me, I want to keep them off the street, both boys and girls, ” said Williams. “It’s giving them a job and also a means of keeping them engaged.”

Echoing much of Williams’s comments were Warwick Academy principal David Horan and Richard Todd, who is the technical director of the Warwick Football Academy as well as the chief operative for the private institution’s High Performance Football Programme, which offers elite training opportunities woven into the school timetable and curriculum for enrolled students.

“I think that it offers the potential to explore one’s involvement in football beyond playing,” said Horan of the skills programme. “For example, you might not be of the standard to play professional football, however you may be able to make a career in the sport as a referee.

“There is also a great need for referees as without enough of them and enough at a competent standard, the game itself cannot grow and improve.

“Then there is the leadership and life aspect that comes with the responsibility of being a referee and managing 22 players during a match.”

Todd was also keen to point out that the skills learned as a referee can transfer to life off it.

“Understanding the laws and the application of the laws of the game will not only help to make them better players, but will also help to increase the level of respect afforded to officials and increase appreciation for this section of stakeholders essential to football,” Todd said.

“The life skills gained will better equip these students for success, with positive character building and equipping them with tool sets such as managing conflict resolution.

“The insight and knowledge of the nutritional and fitness aspects can help to shape healthy and positive lifestyles, and having the certification can be a very important highlight on the CV for college and job applications in the future.

“Warwick Academy is appreciative of the Bermuda Football Association’s outreach with the initiative and will look to continue to offer the programme through its activity and enrichment programmes for future cohorts of students to enroll.”

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Published April 05, 2024 at 6:58 am (Updated April 05, 2024 at 6:43 am)

BFA referee skills programme shows early signs of success

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