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‘Get fit!’

Football referees urged to stay in shape

The days of having unfit football referees who are unable to manage the game effectively and efficiently for ninety minutes are over.

This assurance was given today by vice-president of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) referees committee, Andrew Belgrave, during the closing ceremony of the Member Association Elite Referees Course held at the Barbados Olympic Association.

Belgrave told a gathering which included BFA president Randy Harris that the time invested by instructors should reflect on local referees and if they were not performing then one could assume the instructors were failing at their jobs.

(From left) Andrew Belgrave and David Meikle.

(From left) Andrew Belgrave and David Meikle.

“If you are just here for other reasons my advice is to stay home. We have no time for referees who are not serious about their craft. I have no time to give up for referees that are not interested in their craft, and interested means attending training, being early, being involved, doing what you have to do,” he noted.

There were 25 referees in total from Barbados who participated in the course which commenced last Thursday, October 16, and ended this afternoon.

The vice-president said one of the main concerns for local referees this year was fitness and made it clear that if they felt they didn’t have to train because they didn’t have to do a fitness test or they were not a part of FIFA and were not going anywhere, they were wrong.

“My only concern is that the fitness aspect was lagging a little this year and as I said it reflects on me and whether you are 19 or 45 it reflects on me. So in future when the tests are called and I am asked to assist in selecting referees and I realize you cannot even do a decent fitness test I would recommend to Mr Callender [Barney] or whoever is in charge to leave these people off the courses because it is better for us to have 15 referees and 12 passing fitness test than to have 30 and 12 passing.”

Belgrave’s comments were supported by Jamaican-born FIFA physical instructor, David Meikle, who facilitated the course over the duration of the four days. He said in his country the decision was taken that if a referee could not pass his or her fitness test they simply would not referee a game.

“I would straight off the bat advise Andrew to go for it. In Jamaica, our season started September and it usually starts with the playing of the school boys’ competition which is one of the most viewed competitions in the island. A lot of games are played so you know you need a lot of referees to man these games and the decision we took prior to the start of the season was that if referees can’t pass a test which lasts for roughly twenty-three minutes, how are you going to manage a game that lasts ninety minutes?

“So the decision was taken if you don’t pass the test you don’t referee a game and of course we came up against opposition from the referees themselves and from some of our local presidents but in the end our plans went through. We did not use one referee who did not pass the test. In fact, we started getting a lot of calls asking: ‘Can you reschedule a fitness test for me?’,” Meikle said, to laughter from the audience.

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