KSAFA referees to go hi-tech
Chairman of the Kingston and St Andrew Football Referees Group, Malica Reid, said yesterday that the association's officials will soon be using radio communication during matches.
Reid made the announcement at the group's annual general meeting yesterday and said that this new technology will come into effect when the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association's (KSAFA) Super and Major Leagues get into their Friday night fixtures in March.
This means match officials will be equipped with headsets, which allow referees to consult their assistants on difficult decisions without stopping the game.
Reid said that the intention is to raise the standard of the game within the KSAFA to that of First World nations, where the equipment is already being used.
"What we are trying to do is to put our referees in the best position that they are exposed to this form of technology, they adapt easily, and are familiar with it," Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.
"In terms of the confederation, we are seeing the need to develop our referees and to go back on the path of making KSAFA number one. This will help to ensure that our decisions are spot on, cooperation takes place, and to better the product that we put out there on the field."
These devices are said to carry a battery life of 72 hours, which Reid said allows for use in both games of a double-header fixture. He added that the referees group will receive two sets, which means that all matches will be fully equipped when double-headers take place at two venues on the same day.
The referees group has 31 officials, and two of these are FIFA-sanctioned referees. However, Reid said that they are looking to increase that number this year as there has been a shortage of officials in the KSAFA for a few years.
"We'll be doing our part to ensure that we try our best to get persons to join the group," Reid said. "We have actually started to make connections with high schools and universities in a bid to reduce the starting age of our referees and to get more persons who are likely to move onto the FIFA list."
Outgoing KSAFA president, Ambassador Stewart Stephenson, who was presented with an award by the referees group for his service to the confederation, said that the referees' role in the game cannot be downplayed as, without them, games would not happen. He continued that this would remove an avenue for youngsters to stay away from crime and violence in Jamaica.
"When I left my second stint as president in 2008, we had 41 referees, and coming back in 2014, the numbers dwindled to twenty odd," Stephenson said. "We have to use the global approach to go through the universities and teachers' colleges to see if we can recruit because we need a far greater pool."