Photo Credit: OFC Media

Gone are the days of traditional teaching methods as OFC embraces new, modern approaches to training match officials and instructors.

At a recent regional instructors’ course held in Auckland, 20 participants from 10 Member Associations (MAs) engaged in theory and practical sessions led by FIFA instructors. The primary goal was to enhance the skills of OFC technical instructors to ensure consistency in training match officials across the region.

Renowned FIFA Instructor Lim Kee Chong, who has extensive experience including refereeing at FIFA World Cups and other major tournaments, led the course. He emphasised the importance of adopting more modern techniques in referee development and training to elevate both the standard of officials and the performance of teams in OFC competitions.

Chong also noted, that having match officials experience game scenarios during training sessions helped them to anticipate and address potential mistakes effectively in real matches.

“We have to change our approach, to on the field of play, not always in class. Having players and teams bring some tactics that will put referees in difficult situations. That’s how we are training,” explained Chong.

The course ran alongside a fitness instructors’ workshop led by OFC’s Head of High Performance Alejo Perez Leguizamon. This workshop aimed to standardize fitness protocols and enhance the capacity of referees across the region through practical training sessions.

“We have players simulating situations for referees so they can get into real match scenarios as part of their training and preparation. That’s something that we are doing during this course, together with our colleagues, technical referee, coaches, and instructors. So that’s good for referees to prepare the same way players train during the week with their teams,” Alejo Perez Leguizamon explained.

A key feature of the course was the incorporation of practical activities such as 11v11 and 6v6 matches, allowing instructors to provide instant feedback to match officials. This hands-on approach was appreciated by participants, including newly appointed referee instructor Tavita Makasini.

“Before we didn’t have this chance, but now we have it, I think it is good. Like when we have the practical session in the field, we have players and we have referees also, and us instructors will have to guide the players and teach the referee at the same time. After the practical, we can give feedback for the referees. That’s a part of our learning to be an instructor,” said Makasini.

Therefore, OFC is committed to ensuring its technical and fitness instructors are well-versed in modern training methods to support the development of referees to help them meet the increasing expectations of the game’s stakeholders.

“We need to make sure referees are fit for purpose and fit for officiating matches, matches that are becoming more and more demanding physically for match officials,” added Leguizamon.

“To test match officials, there are a couple of protocols that we follow, and that’s in line with FIFA. So, on one hand, we have the FIFA testing protocols that are mandatory for all FIFA match officials to be declared fit to officiate. And on the other hand, we have fitness checks and fitness exercises that we use to monitor fitness standards prior to competition.”

By adopting the modern training methods OFC hope to enhance referee development and maintain high standards of officiating across the region. Through courses like this, MAs can learn and grow, ensuring they develop skilled referees capable of meeting the challenges of modern football.