Seven local referees received their FIFA badges for 2018 at the TTFA Home of Football, Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Thursday.
One of those officials who got a badge was Crystal Sobers, who will be the only T&T official to participate at the FIFA Women’s Under-20 Championships in Trinidad, from January 18-28.
At a press conference held at the Ato Boldon Stadium yesterday, Sobers and Cecile Hinds received their FIFA women’s referee badges, while Evelyn Carissa Jacobs-Douglas received her FIFA women’s assistant referee badge.
Among the men, Rodphin Harris earned his FIFA referee badge, while the trio of Caleb Wales, Ainsley Rochard and Joseph Bertrand got FIFA assistant referee badges. This means that all officials will be eligible for FIFA appointments to officiate at international FIFA approved matches and competitions in all age groups.
After receiving the badge, Sobers said she was glad all the hard work paid off. “It is about personal development. It is what you want from refereeing. I am passionate about football, so being a referee, it will help me with my drive towards this passion that I have for football. This badge (I received) is after a year of work. This year you had a lot of courses, fitness tests and technical work we had to do,” Sobers said.
Sobers said she is proud to be T&T’s only representative at the Under-20 CONCACAF Championships, but said it would have been great to have a team of local officials. “I feel proud, but I would have been more proud if I had a full team of T&T officials with me. But I am really proud of my hard word for the past three years because 2018 is my fourth year on the panel. Getting the badge is the easiest part, but the work behind it is not.”
TTFA President David John-Williams added made a number of commitments to improve the quality of officiating in the local game, such as making available ten rooms when the Sportel at the Home of Football is completed, for the referees.
The TTFA boss said because of the need for improved refereeing in the country, local officials can use the rooms to sleep or have meetings or even overnight during training camps
“At the Home of Football, we plan to give referees about ten rooms on a plan basis so that they can come in and do some weekend camps or specialized training.
“I think this is important because referees are part of football too, and I dare say a very important part of football.
“We have to do all in our power to improve the game at all levels” John-Williams said.
He told the audience he will also make available retainer contracts for referees, saying whether it is 15 to 20 referees, an elite panel will be established and these contracts will be offered to referees at the T&T Pro League and Super League levels.
This, he believes, will be an encouragement for referees to train hard and improve the game.
Before the badges were given out John-Williams said it is always good to have representation at the world level.
He admitted that referees had been targets for blame when things didn’t go right for teams at matches. He urged the referees to stay focused and steadfast and avoid conflict with teams or any other officials.