Photo Credit: OFC Media

Two referees from Oceania have been given the opportunity to attend Argentina Football Association’s Pre-season Camp for Professional Referees at the National Training Centre, “Lionel Messi” in Buenos Aires, and also in Mar del Plata.

OFC Elite Referees Ben Aukwai from the Solomon Islands and New Zealand’s Campbell-Kirk Kawana-Waugh were invited to participate, with the top professional Argentine Referees, alongside Saudi Arabia Football Association Referees.

The invitation was a first for OFC match officials, who got to rub shoulders with their counterparts from the FIFA World Cup™ 2022 winners,

The invite is part of a brand new and exciting Referee exchange programme that will see Argentine Referees officiate in OFC competitions this year.

OFC High Performance Coach Alejo Perez Leguizamon was part of the AFA Pre-Season Camp and was thrilled to see OFC Elite Match Officials interacting with some of the world’s best football referees.

“The referee exchange is an amazing opportunity to improve football refereeing skills and benchmark with top referees, learn from highly qualified instructors and also to interact with local fitness coaches, medical staff and other amazing professionals that provide support to the Argentine Football Referees.”

The Pre-season camp covered topics ranging from physical preparation to medical checks, offside, handball, VAR protocol and practical training on the field of play, with local professional football players.

For Kanawa-Waugh and Aukwai, being exposed to these different environments and learning from some of the world’s best referees, Perez Leguizamon says will only enhance their development.

“And equally important is the exchange experience with other cultures and the chance to meet and connect with peers and follow referees from Argentina and Saudi Arabia.

“It’s also a unique opportunity for our match officials to get exposure to professional football environments, key to develop referees for professional football leagues and matches,” Perez Leguizamon said.