Top Division Pool referee Kevin Azzopardi and specialized assistant referees Christopher Francalanza and Mitchell Scerri, represented the Malta Football Association at the 1st UEFA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) Introductory Course for referees and assistant referees, organised by UEFA at its CORE’s headquarters (the Colovray sports centre opposite UEFA’s House of European Football) in Nyon, Switzerland, between 31st August and 14th September 2010.
The creation of a Centre of Refereeing Excellence was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee during its meeting in Malta last January 28, and, as a key initiative of this new UEFA programme, CORE will run a two-part course – introductory and consolidation – with a UEFA CORE diploma awarded at its conclusion.
UEFA took over the management of the Colovray facility in April, paving the way for the CORE project to begin its work of making a significant contribution to referee development across Europe.
Yvan Cornu, CORE’s recently appointed manager, is overseeing the referee education scheme together with course leaders Jaap Uilenberg and David Elleray from the UEFA Referees Committee.
The introductory course lasts for two weeks as experienced referee instructors and specialists advise the promising young match officials (aged between 25 and 30) about match preparation, player management, control of the game, tactical awareness, mental preparation, fitness training combined with practical exercises to undergo the FIFA fitness test. The one-week consolidation course that follows will take place around seven months later.
If technique, match control, fitness and English – refereeing’s common language, in which course delegates must already be proficient – are target areas for the introductory fortnight, the main aims of the consolidation week are: to evaluate a young referee’s resulting progress at national level, to reinforce the introductory training, and to offer further development in body language, injury prevention and stress management.
Each of UEFA’s 53 member national associations will be invited to send one referee and two assistant referees every year to join in the CORE programme. Successful participants receive the UEFA CORE diploma of achievement. National associations are also being asked to recommend referee coaches to assist the main instructors and senior coach.
To complete the busy introductory course agenda, all referees are given the opportunity to officiate at two Swiss or French championship fixtures, which will conclude with each participant setting personal objectives. In fact, the Maltese trio on Saturday 04th September, controlled the 2 Liga Inter-regional Group 1 match between FC Stade Lausanne Ouchy and FC Perly Certoux (2-2 result), played at the Juan Antonio Samaranch Stadium in Lausanne; and on Sunday 12th September, controlled the Division 4 derby match between Moutier and Alle (4-0 result) which was played at Stade de Chaliere, in Moutier.