Thirty secondary school children will be qualified as referees by the end of this week to officiate in the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Schools’ Referee Development Program.
This is because the BFA and Concacaf, have joined forces to educate those interested in officiating the game of football.
BFA’s Referees’ Manager Mark “Bob” Forde explained during his address at the launch of the program at the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium this morning, that instead of providing referees who were already qualified to officiate the NextPlay games, he felt the best thing to do was to have a program where students within the secondary school system could be utilized.
“Participants were chosen from secondary schools across the island. At the end of the three-day training, we will select 14 to 20 of those who complete the course to be a part of the ongoing NextPlay Program, a developmental program for young children, and get the opportunity to put what they have learnt in the classroom and the two practical sessions into play,” he said.
During the training sessions, potential referees would be supplied with all the necessary gear for the upcoming NexPlay tournament on November 22 with the finals scheduled for December 6.
“We partnered with the Secondary Schools’ Football League because the idea is that as you graduate from the Referees Program and become full-fledged referees and you are still in the school system that we will appoint the referees coming out of this program to officiate school football,” he said.
Additionally, Forde, who has 37 years of refereeing under his belt, told the participants if they weren’t very good at playing football they could still get involved in the game by officiating.
“I wasn’t no good. I had two brothers, Colin “Potato” Forde who captained Barbados and Ivan “Spee” Forde who also played at the national level; two top footballers. I was no good, so I decided to become a referee and that took me all over the world and I was able to represent my country like my brothers,” he added.
Forde said this was the first program of its kind, and he hoped it would continue on an annual basis with students throughout the island’s secondary schools.
“We need to have young people. As the chairman [Barney Callender] was saying you can now referee football at 17, 18 and 19 years old. One of our young referees Cadijah Mars just came from officiating at the Caribbean Football Union Girls’ Under-14 Challenge Series in Trinidad and Tobago and previously in the Cayman Islands. We also have Jaselle Louison who has been refereeing since she was 14. She also went to Jamaica and Trinidad for the same Under-14 competition.
“There are opportunities for young referees and you don’t have to wait until you get older. You can have the opportunity to travel. As soon as Mars came back from the Cayman Islands she told me this is something she wanted to do. Once you are interested in becoming referees, this whole department and the Referees Committee are going to put every effort behind you to ensure that you can go to the next level,” he pledged.