Thu | Jan 17, 2019

'Bush League!'

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2017 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott
Referee Valdin Legister (second right) breaks up a confrontation between Waterhouse FC's Jeffrey Henry (right) and Arnett Gardens' Leon Strickland (second left) during a Red Stripe Premier League game last season.

Former FIFA referee Peter Prendergast says local referees do not get enough support for training and development, and this results in local match officials under-performing in high-profile games. Prendergast added that these officials are generally not as effective on the field of play as they should be, which has made them what he describes as lambs to the slaughter for the local football public.

Prendergast also argued that local administrators take too long to make payment to officials, which is forcing referees to stand for themselves.

"Football is played by players for the enjoyment of spectators. The referee is simply a facilitator. But we don't get enough support from football organisers to help with the training and development of referees. Competition organisers need to understand that the way players train to play, referees have to train to referee. They have to train, eat, travel, and they have injuries, too."




He pointed out that without proper and consistent training, officials can find it difficult to control and make all the right calls in games to the best of their abilities.

"It (support) is not there, and they are forcing referees to make unpopular decisions. For the Premier League this year, referees didn't start training until time for the season, because they were owed for months. And they had to go into their pockets to train, buy food, travel, take care of injuries, buy rehydration fluids and equipment, yet they ref a game and for months, they don't get any money," the respected former official told The Gleaner.

One of the main challenges the referee group faces, though, is a shortage of personnel, and Prendergast believes this results from a lack of support.

"They (officials) need to be part of the development of the football and given the type of support they need. [An official] is not employed by the football federation or the league. It is not his job, so they are forcing us to get more militant and to organise ourselves in a professional environment that they will have to treat as such.




"We have other challenges, one of which is we don't have enough people coming into the programme. Because of lack of support, we can't attract the kind of numbers or calibre of persons," he said.

Prendergast added that the way things are done locally is of a standard he describes as "bush league", and said that it must change.

"We don't have enough support for training and development. We can't even get videos. We use videos for training, and when we ask people for videos, we have to beg and struggle. Not every Premier League game is recorded, so when there's an incident, we can't even look back at it because we have no evidence. It's a bush league that we running. We need to get away from this bush-league mentality and stop talking about professionalism, because the basic things are not provided for," he said.