OFC places high importance on developing world class match officials and in 2008 referee development received a huge boost thanks to the establishment of the FIFA-funded Refereeing Assistance Programme (RAP).
Under the umbrella of the FIFA Development Office, the programme aimed to prepare referees for international competitions, particularly the FIFA World Cup, and to develop referees in each of the Member Associations (MAs) through scouting and education.
The RAP team established a structure to improve the quality and quantity of referee education through the introduction of new courses held in various member associations. The courses were tailored to meet the needs of whole refereeing community – from community referees through to elite referees, and included courses to meet the growing demand for futsal and beach soccer officials.
The OFC referee education programme, designed by the OFC Football Division and the RAP, welcomes men and women and features the most up to date resources and equipment.
The foundations laid by the RAP team are being built upon by the current team – OFC Head of Refereeing Kevin Stoltenkamp and his Solomon Islands-based colleague Neil Poloso. The success of the programme can be seen in the ever-increasing level of representation of Oceania officials at FIFA tournament.