The annual FIFA FUTURO III Referee Instructors Course got underway in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday with 48 particpants from all 11 OFC Member Associations present to take part in the week-long activities.
OFC Referee Development Officer Kevin Stoltenkamp said the course covers futsal, beach soccer and football, with different instructors from around the world coming to share their knowledge and experience with the attendees.
Among the FIFA Instructors are Malaysians Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh and Badrul Hisham Kalam, Perry Gaultier of Belgium and Deputy Head of FIFA Referee Department Manual Navarro.
Stoltenkamp said the main idea is to achieve consistency in the application of the Laws of the Game.
“We’re trying to get a uniform approach throughout all 11 of our Member Associations,” he said.
Stoltenkamp said the timing of the course is to get a jump start on 2019.
“We’re holding the course now to give the new trends which have come out in the World Cup for football, and the new trends which have come out of the youth futsal in Argentina so we can pass it on to the instructors and ensure they are ready for next year,” he explained.
“In the past we were always starting from behind so this is an opportunity to be prepared for 2019.”
Mohd Salleh is excited about what the week holds for Oceania’s referee instructors.
“My role is to pass our message from FIFA, what we do in competitions and the trends which emerged at the last FIFA World Cup in Russia,” he said.
The Malaysian is particularly effusive when discussing the difference between the direct application of the Laws of the Game and the philosophy behind their application.
“Everyone can talk, everyone can read what is the Laws of the Game, this is written in the book.
“But to understand how this law needs to be implemented on the field of play, then we need to pass this philosophy to the referees,” he explained.
“Who does this come from? It comes from the instructors.”
Having been present in Russia for the FIFA World Cup, Mohd Salleh is in a good position to comment on how referees in the region have benefited from the FUTURO III.
“I’m quite happy to see the performances of the referees at the World Cup. They’re improving quite a lot because they’re not only one time in the World Cup, they’ve been preparing for four to six years before,” he said.
“It’s very positive. I can see Matthew (Conger) really prepare himself, he’s confident in his decisions even in front of 40,000-plus spectators.
“The final result of this course, and courses like it, is that we have referees showing good examples at the world cup. I think Matthew is an example of the result.”
Among the participants is FIFA Assistant Referee Maria Salamasina of Samoa, who recently returned from the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.
Salamasina has attended the course in previous years as a fitness instructor, but this time is focusing on the technical side of football under Mohd Salleh’s tutelage.
“Fitness instructing is more about training programmes, whereas as a football instructor it’s more technical focusing on the Laws of the Game, fouls and things like that.
“I’m happy to be taking part because there are some rules I don’t think I fully understand so this is an opportunity for me to get the information directly from these instructors,” Salamasina explained.
Papua New Guinea referee instructor Hillary Ani is also in Auckland and relishing the opportunity to update his knowledge following his retirement from refereeing and switch to instructing.
“I train referees alongside Job Minan, the Referee Development Officer in Papua New Guinea, and we’re based in Port Moresby.
“It’s a big country so we cover the southern region and Jimmy (Warai) is in the Highlands,” Ani explained of the situation at home.
“It’s great that we can come here, get knowledge and then go back and help our referees and develop them from there to take part in more Oceania games to hopefully becoming FIFA match officials.”