ISSA considering using youngsters as match officials
ISSA President Keith Wellington says he is open to the idea of using a younger cohort of referees in schoolboy football, to address the match official shortage across its competitions.
Wellington recently said that there is a need for more referees for the upcoming schoolboy football season, as the number of personnel in control of games in the recent past was too low, creating undue pressure for officials.
“Our plans preceded this season,” Wellington said. “It wouldn’t be for me to have any expectations. What we want to do is to get persons interested. What we’re going to do is make the effort to get persons more interested in joining the ranks of the referees.
“We are hopeful that it will work, and we think that there are many persons with the ability, and persons who can benefit from it.”
Wellington says a system where match officials start out as children, much like in other countries where football is more established, could work in Jamaica, with referees getting exposure in ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup and ISSA/WATA daCosta Cup games.
“I don’t think it would be too difficult to do,” he said. “It’s something that we can definitely do. We have leagues from age 15 and as it is now, Physical Education and Sports is a part of the formal curriculum, with the subjects being offered at both CSEC and CAPE level.
“With a number of tertiary institutions offering certification in different areas related to physical education, I think that it is something that if we’re serious about career development, we can be counselling and guiding our 10th-graders towards, even if it’s not full-time careers, in fields like refereeing and sports management, but definitely piquing their interest towards those areas and getting them involved at some level, whether it’s going to be full-time or as a second career option.”
But former Kingston and St Andrew Football Referees Group Chairman Malica Reid is not as optimistic as Wellington, as he says that the idea of training referees at a young age was already tried with no success.
Up to last season, match officials were understood to be earning $1,700 per game, and Reid says that the costs incurred by referees just to travel would be a big issue for youngsters, especially as many would not even be able to drive.
“We don’t have a flowing system. For example, the adults have to supplement their programme. My regular job is what I use to take care of me to go to a match. If we brought in kids, it’s like we’re saying to their parents, ‘Send your child come do this but a you affi pay fi it’.”
Reid says another serious concern is the abuse the youngsters would be subjected to at games.
“Again, it’s like me saying to a parent, ‘Send your child to be abused’,” he said. “While I can make that decision for myself as an adult and say to myself that ‘If a man tell mi bout my mother, dat nuh really matter,’ but to say to a mother to send them into that environment wouldn’t be right.”
ISSA recently announced it will be supporting the Jamaica Football Referees Association as it attempts to increase its match official representation islandwide.