Seminar for top referees and assistant referees

Following last May’s successful three-day live-in seminar for Top Division Pool Referees, Class One Referees and Top Division Pool Assistant Referees, earlier this month the Malta FA’s Referees’ Board organised another similar gathering for the same categories of officials, at a hotel in Mellie?a. The seminar forms part of the project undertaken as part of the UEFA Referees Convention agreement.

Opening the seminar, Malta FA Senior Vice-President and Chairman of the Referees’ Board, Mr. Carmelo Bartolo, said that the need was felt that we should repeat last year’s experience to continue enabling our referees to bring out their potential in their careers; added to this, they are part of a show and we must make sure that they run it, and deliver, to the other stakeholders involved. He said that referees should not forget that the power vested in them is to be exercised for the good of the game; and that they have instructions to follow with responsibility. Mr Bartolo expressed his wish that during this working experience together away from the field of play, they would not only get to know each other more, but will also feel that they have become better referees and better persons.

Various topics were addressed by Referees’ Board lecturers. Messrs Patrick Fenech (Head, Refereeing Department) and Tom A. Restall, conducted a Video Analysis Test (based on the UEFA Assistance Programme 2010-2012) during which a number of clips on match situations were specifically shown, and the referees had to indicate their decisions/disciplinary sanctions. Mr Victor Mintoff (Chairman, Youth Development) prepared a presentation on The Advantage: Correct and Sensible Application.

For the Group Work session, the referees were divided into four groups – each chaired by one of our FIFA referees – and discussed two particular topics put forward to them, results of which will be analysed and discussed later on this month during one of the regular instructional meetings.

Mr Ronald Zammit (Referees’ Physical Trainer), spoke on Physical Fitness Analysis with special reference to various weight training exercises. His talk was followed by a practical demonstration in the hotel’s gym.

The main guest speaker of this seminar was Prof. Ian W. Maynard (Professor of Sport Psychology) who conducted various sessions, namely on Sports Psychology of Football Refereeing, Core Mental Skills – Interactive Workshop, and General Aspects. During his three presentations, Prof. Maynard dealt with the skills or core techniques that will help a referee improve his/her mental preparation; non-verbal communication for elite referees; body language; and match preparation and performance planning. He said that referees must be able to perform under pressure.

Other speakers were club administrators Messrs Jesmond Abela and Charles Scerri (Malta FA Executive Members) who dealt on Better Relations between Club Officials and Referees. Mr Abela said that clubs have a lot at stake and club officials are under constant pressure; he emphasised that referees should not differentiate between players or teams, and be consistent. Mr Scerri (he himself a former international referee) said that referees should constantly work for a better attitude with players and officials. On their part, the referees said they would appreciate better cooperation from officials and players, who should try to be more familiar with the Laws of the game.

The closing address was delivered by Malta FA President, Mr. Norman Darmanin Demajo. First of all he referred to Prof. Maynard’s interesting lectures which he intends to look at from an administrative (MFA) and a technical (refereeing) perspective. He also expressed Prof. Maynard’s pleasure regarding the referees’ interaction and also his remark about our referees’ high standard. The President said that the MFA’s invitation to Prof. Maynard was not by chance but rather because he thinks mental preparation is imperative not only for sportsmen’s careers but also in everyday life. He went through the seminar’s programme which he thought was well-prepared; and mentioned some reflections and suggestions which he put forward to referees for them to ponder. Mr Darmanin Demajo made reference to the MFA’s on-going projects and initiatives; adding that Ta’ Qali must be a ‘centre’ where one can find all the available help and support – that is the role of the MFA, the Referees’ Board and the MFRA. Finally, as he expressed the opinion that our referees are doing a good job week in, week out – but as the saying goes “a referee is only good as his last game” – he thanked all concerned for the organisation of this seminar.