OFC places high importance on developing world class match officials and in 2008 referee development received a huge boost thanks to the FIFA-funded Refereeing Assistance Programme (RAP). Under the umbrella of the FIFA Development Office, the programme had two objectives. Firstly, it aimed to prepare referees for international competitions, particularly the FIFA World Cup. Secondly, it aimed to develop referees in each of the Member Associations (MAs) through scouting and education.
The RAP team established a structure that aimed to improve the quality and quantity of referee education. Practically, this resulted in several new courses being held in various Oceania countries which targeted the wide spectrum of match officials – from elite to community referees, from futsal to beach soccer referees. The courses, organised for men and women, featured the latest teaching resources and up-to-date equipment. OFC’s Technical Department worked closely with the RAP team to organise the education programme.
Proof that the initiatives are working can be seen in the increased level of representation for Oceania at international tournaments.
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.