Strength in numbers - JFF referees boss aim to deepen selection pool
Victor Stewart, the new manager for the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Referees Department, said increasing the number of match officials and ensuring a good working relation between the body and its match personnel will be his main objectives.
Stewart, who was appointed on Thursday, said increasing the volume of referees will force other officials to improve their performance. However, he believes stakeholders needs to 'accept' and 'respect' their service and role towards uplifting the football product.
However, he believes an increase in officials will reduce complacency and ensure greater levels of performances. "It is no secret we are not totally endowed with numbers. It is difficult to attract referees in Jamaica, as you know, the abuse and negativity match officials get. So one of our aims is to increase the numbers. We have to devise marketing strategies and motivational methods to get more people into the system. As there is a lot to achieve from refereeing at the international and local levels," he reasoned.
"Once there is numbers and competition, there can be no complacency. If you have six Premier League games per week and only six top-class referees, they know they are going to get a game every week, even when they mess up. But if I have 24 referees to choose six from, when a man gets a game he knows he better perform. So there is security in numbers," he continued.
The numbers are also important when officiating a massive competition like the Manning or DaCosta Cup. "The largest competitions (in terms of number of teams involved) are the Manning and DaCosta Cups. That stretches us and adds pressure to the system, weekly. We need at least 150 referees every Saturday, so numbers is important for competition," he added.
One of his mandate is to erase some of the burning issues between referees and the JFF, although he contends is just need for better communication and understanding. "There is no issue between the JFF and referees. The JFF is trying support and develop referees. They are misunderstood, and a lack of communication may have left a negative picture with the public, which is far from the reality.
"But all we (referees) need is acceptance and respect for the role we play. We have to bridge that gap, and communication is the only way. I have worked with some of these referees when I was a referee, so I know the personalities, and that will make it easier to work with them," he stated.