Tue | Dec 6, 2022

Referee shortage could threaten schoolboy football, JPL

Published:Saturday | October 1, 2022 | 12:08 AMJob Nelson/Sports Coordinator
Victor Stewart.
Victor Stewart.
Excelsior High School’s Antwan Johnson fouls Campion High School’s Kai Myles during their ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup fixture at the Campion field on Thursday.
Excelsior High School’s Antwan Johnson fouls Campion High School’s Kai Myles during their ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup fixture at the Campion field on Thursday.

THE JAMAICA Football Referees Committee (JFRC) is facing a shortage of referees, which sources argue will affect the current football season, especially when all the various competitions across the island begin.

According to one source who requested anonymity, the JFRC is to be blamed, as the leadership failed to implement measures to offset the situation. The source admitted that, while the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the shortage, adequate plans were not developed.

Another person who is a top-level member of the JFRC, who also wanted to remain nameless, stated that the situation is severe, with the expectation that it will get worse when the island’s top football competition, Jamaica Premier League (JPL), starts on October 23.

Apart from the JPL, several other lower-tier parish competitions are expected to start soon, which, it is believed, will further complicate the situation, with the Corporate Area’s schoolboy football Manning Cup and the rural counterpart, daCosta Cup, already in progress.

“I know for sure that we need referees, but I don’t know how they (JFRC executives) will solve that problem,” one source said.

The JFRC, according to a further source, should have started a recruitment drive before the start of the football season, as the executives had adequate notification to prepare.

“The executives are not doing anything. This was a simple problem that could have been solved if they had taken the initiative a long time before,” the source said.

Victor Stewart, head of the JFRC, the arm of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) that handles referees’ development, rubbished the claims while admitting that the island is experiencing a referee shortage.

According to Stewart, the JFRC has been working with the different organisers to prepare fixtures that the complement of referees that are currently available can adequately supply.

He cited the Manning Cup and daCosta, as he said organisers Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) structure matches to be played throughout the week, except on Sundays, instead of having loaded two or three days. He said that the shortage is especially severe in the western and eastern sections of the island.

“One of the problems we have with referees is that the distribution of referees across the island is not equal, in that, eastern and western groups are somewhat deficient in numbers, with the bulk of the referees being between South Central, St Catherine and KSAFA,” Stewart said.

“How it goes with the number of schools, for example in the west, the west has a lot of schools. So what we worked out with them (ISSA) is that they play games every day. So instead, for example, there are six games in a western zone, they only play three one day and play the others another day.

“So the bottom line is that we work it out with the organisers so that we can facilitate the tournaments without games being postponed.”