HomeNewsStewart urges young J’cans to venture into refereeing as shortage puts squeeze on operations

Stewart urges young J’cans to venture into refereeing as shortage puts squeeze on operations

Victor Stewart, head of the refereeing department at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), says there is a chronic shortage of officials in the country and is urging young, physically fit Jamaicans with a knowledge of the game to become part of the association.

Before the novel coronavirus pandemic started and forced the lockdown of sports, Stewart said there had been a shortage of match officials to adequately handle the workload of football in the country.

With football expected to restart soon, he said the need for match officials will still be there and said the benefits of becoming a good referee are many and pointed to the international success of Jamaican match officials.

On Monday assistant referee Nicholas Anderson became the first Jamaican to be appointed to officiate at the Fifa Club World Cup that will be held in Doha, Qatar, next month.

Anderson also officiated at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Brazil in 2019, while centre field referee Daneon Parchment participated in the ScotiaBank Concacaf Champions League in Orlando, Florida, last month.

“We are aware of the fact that the general public have a negative opinion of referees,” Stewart told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

“And the way football is played here in Jamaica is totally different from the way football is played globally. When our match officials participate in tournaments outside of Jamaica they are in a more controlled environment. However, not to underestimate or belittle our local competitions, as it provides the battleground, the hardened ground for them, so when they leave Jamaica to officiate it is a cake walk almost, so to speak, in terms of being able to manage pressure and operating in that environment,” Stewart reasoned.

He said they presently have a complement of 210 referees, about half of what would be an “ideal total” of which 45, including 13 Fifa officials, are used for the Premier League competition.

Of the 45 ‘senior’ officials, Stewart said on any given weekend five or six could be away on Concacaf duties and that puts extra pressure on them.

He also noted that the ISSA schoolboy football competition makes the biggest demands on the pool of referees, “on any given match Saturday for the daCosta Cup and Manning Cup we can have upwards of 180 referees working across the island.”

Stewart, himself a former Fifa referee, boasted that Jamaica “had a long tradition of providing top match officials over the years”.

“We can go back to the days of Owen Powell in France ’98, Peter Prendergast in the World Cup in Korea/Japan in 2002; Paulette Riley, Cordella Samuels who have been in multiple female World Cups, Stacyann Greyson who went to the 2012 Olympic Games, Princess Brown and Stephanie-Dale Yee Singh in the Women’s World Cup in France in 2019 and not to forget the stalwarts such as Courtney Campbell and now to the present pool of talent that we have, we have done very well,” he said.

Four Jamaican women referees have been included on “the panel that is being preselected for senior female World Cup in Australia/New Zealand in 2023”.

“That is another great achievement, we are very proud, but we are keeping our feet on the ground and keeping our heads high as the work does not stop here, we intend to continue the development of these girls so they can keep the black, green and gold flag flying and at the same time we are hoping to develop other female and male match officials so they can matriculate to that level.

“For a small national such as ours to be competing with the large countries in North America — USA, Mexico and Canada — in terms of numbers and quality [of officials], we think we are doing reasonably well, and not to say we are totally satisfied, we are happy but we want more because there is more to be had,” Stewart noted.

It is on the basis of this success he said there is a big future for young Jamaicans to get involved in the sport at that level.

“We want to encourage young Jamaicans with good physical ability and football knowledge to join us, we need referees we have chronic shortage we have quality and there is a good opportunity for young people to expand their horizons and better themselves,” said Stewart.

Interested persons, he said, can call their respective parish associations, or go directly to the Jamaica Football Federation.

“We will provide the technical training and required exams, it is not difficult but it takes commitment and that will lead to achievements and they can become global superstars in their own rights,” Stewart ended.

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