Aspiration and perspiration were the buzzwords of the day as the fitness levels of elite referees and assistant referees from around the OFC were placed under scrutiny at Mount Smart Stadium today. The group underwent a rigorous assessment of their physical capabilities under the watchful eyes of fitness instructor Alejo Leguizamon.
The fitness test consisted of a speed and endurance test that pushed many participants to their limits.
The morning began with two lectures on Nutritional Requirements and Injury Prevention before training gear was donned and the group headed down to the track to be put through their paces.
The tests are designed to be specific to the requirements of referees and assistant referees. Fitness instructor Alejo Leguizamon set out to discover which officials had prepared well for the test and those that hadn’t.
Overall, Leguizamon was pleased with the results.
“We have a very professional set-up and I was pleased with the outcome of the sprints. We have candidates who are very close to the top FIFA referees which is encouraging. Some of them are even faster still.”
Assistant Referee Tevita Makasini of Tonga recorded 4.91 seconds over a distance of just 40m on two separate occasions. For the Referees Peter O’Leary of New Zealand performed to a high standard with Mike Hester recording the fastest time for referees during the sprint of 5.09 seconds.
Leguizamon regarded the performance of both men as exceptional. He said it was important for Referees to maintain a high level of performance in interval training and that Assistant Referees required more explosiveness over a short distance.
“One of the benefits of this test is to educate the officials on specific forms of training rather than just going out for a long run. This stimulates them to train in a more structured way.”
New Zealand Assistant Referee, Brent Best, said the test was challenging but that his background in the Hyundai-A League stood him in good stead.
“I’ve had two seasons of officiating in the Hyundai-A League and that helped me today. I know one or two found the fitness test harder than others but I’m pleased with my performance”.
Best’s dream assignment is to officiate at the FIFA World Cup and he has already had a taste of international football when he officiated in New Zealand’s friendly against Malaysia in Christchurch.
“The New Zealand game is my only `A’ international to date. Prior to that I was involved in New Zealand Under 20’s match with Chile at North Harbour Stadium in 2004.”
Best has officiated in the NZFC, the OFC Club Championships in 2005 and 2006, and at Northern Ireland’s Milk Cup competition in 2006. He was involved in three matches, Wales v. USA, Northern Ireland v. Turkey, and the final match, USA v. Paraguay.
As one of the more experienced officials involved in the Elite Referee’s course Best says there is great value to be gained for the participants.
“Courses like these are good for networking and learning about our colleagues from other countries. It helps if you meet officials from elsewhere because if you are working together in the future at least you already have a rapport.”