• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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FIFA expresses confidence in Nigerian referees


Felix Tangwarima, a FIFA Technical Instructor, on Wednesday in Abuja said Nigerian referees had what it takes to compete favourably with their counterparts in Europe.

Tangwarima made the remarks on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of a Nigerian Referees, Instructors, Assessors FIFA Elite Programme held in Abuja.

The international programme involved no fewer than 150 male and female FIFA referees, elite national referees, national referee assessors, national physical fitness instructors and non-FIFA women referees.

The three-day capacity-enhancing programme, which began on Monday, ended on Wednesday.

Tangwarima, who is responsible for the development of referees in Africa and also a member of the CAF Referees Committee, told NAN that the country’s referees had great prospects.

“I can assure you that from what the referees have demonstrated during the course of this training, it is obvious that the graph is moving upwards in terms of the quality of their performance and their level of commitment.

“We must continue to support these referees, you know Nigeria is a large country, so there is no reason why Nigerian referees should not be represented in all the major tournaments of CAF and FIFA.

“When it comes to refereeing on the continent, we are already seeing positive signs as a few Nigerian referees are beginning to go out of the country to officiate in CAF competitions.

“This means that the future is bright for referees in the country and very soon we will begin to see them officiating in bigger CAF and FIFA tournaments,” he said.

He explained that the purpose of the training was to ensure that Nigerian referees were at par with their counterparts in other parts of the world, adding that the exercise would be a continuous process.

“When we embarked on this development programme, it was conceived as a process and not a one off activity.

“This is the reason why we always come back year-in-year-out and when we are not here the local instructors also help us.

“As you can see the game of football has evolved over the years and so there are a lot of things which have changed as we have revised the laws of the game.

“So, we always want our referees to be working at the same wave length with the rest of the world and that’s why we are here,” he said.

He stressed that the programme was more of practical than theory, adding that it was meant to correct the common mistakes made by referees on the field of play.

“The approach of this particular course is slightly different from the other courses we have done, in the sense that, 80 per cent of this course is purely practical, while only 20 per cent is theoretical.

“We have taken this approach because the problems are not in the class, but they are rather on the field of play.

“So, during the week we had an opportunity of taking the referees through game situations and in all those sessions there was what we referred to as ‘instant feed back’.

“We record the games and the events that transpired and after that activity the referee goes to the television screen to correct the mistakes which he may have made.

“He is then sent back again to the field of play to carry out another activity and we have indeed found out that this is an effective way of actually correcting mistakes which can happen during a live game.

“So, it is important that we correct them on the field of play in training rather than during the game,” he said.

On the appointment of Nigeria’s Abigail Alabi as one of the referees in the technical study group, he said it was a well deserved reward for hard work.

“What happened was that two years ago, we had a course here which we had about 35 female young referees and it was from that project we identified her.

“So, when we were looking for somebody to be part of that programme, which is called “Captain of Today, Leader of Tomorrow”, with the criteria of the age we found that she actually fit the bill.

“She also impressed us during the interviews as she was so fluent and eloquent in English. She exuded confidence both on and off the field of play.

“So, we felt she was a true representative of not just Nigeria but also Africa.

“I am confident that after she attends the program she is going to learn a lot of things and her experience will be beneficial to her colleagues in Nigeria as well as Africa,” he said.

NAN reports that guests at the occasion were Shehu Dikko, the Chairman, League Management Company (LMC) and Ahmed Yusuf, the Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Referees Committee.

Others were Sani Zubair, the Head of the NFF Referees Unit and Secretary of the NFF Referees Committee, Mohammed Sanusi, NFF Secretary General, among others.