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OFC match officials off to Rio

The OFC match officials include New Zealand referee Matthew Conger in the men’s competition as well as Anna-Marie Keighley also from New Zealand in the women’s tournament.
The FIFA Referees Committee has also appointed four assistant referees with Tevita Makasini from Tonga and Simon Lount from New Zealand in the men’s and his compatriot Sarah Jones and Lata Kaumatule from Tonga in the women’s event.
Conger says he is proud and honoured to represent OFC at Rio.
“The Olympics are a global event that people of every age, from every country and from every background relate to.
“To be a part of that always sits somewhere in the minds of every athlete, no matter what sport;” says the 37-year-old from Manawatu.
“So, it is a great honour to be selected to referee at this football tournament as part of such an amazing event as the Rio Olympics 2016.”
Conger believes the selection of the three women and a trio of male referees is an example of the excellent quality of elite officials that OFC can produce.
“We are showing that our region has the capability to produce world class officials and I believe our capacity to produce more throughout the region is extensive when given the best available support.
“We need the continued and increasing support of our MA’s and OFC to give the elite officials in our region the best opportunity for appointment to this and other important competitions, both now and in the future.”
Conger believes the Rio Olympics will provide referees with a fantastic opportunity to build towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
“Every match that my team of assistant referees, Simon Lount and Tevita Makasini, and I work together on is an important step on the Road to Russia 2018,” he says.
“We want to continue to show that we have the qualities necessary to represent OFC at the World Cup.”
Last month Conger attended an historic FIFA training seminar on refereeing in Doha.
Hosted by FIFA’s Head of Refereeing, Massimo Busacca, the seminar brought male and female referees together for the first time ever.
Conger believes the seminar provided him with an excellent opportunity for personal development which stands him in good stead for both Rio and the future.
“Doha was particularly significant because it was an elite group of very experienced referees from Africa, Asia and Oceania,” he says.
“With that much expertise and experience in the room or on the training pitch the learning opportunities are always present for those willing to observe, listen and apply the wisdom that is on offer.
“There are certainly a few key points that I will work to apply on the pitch in Rio and beyond that.”
The Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 will take place between 3 and 21 August, with both the men’s and women’s finals taking place in the iconic Maracana Stadium.