Referees' Talents and Mentors Seminar

The Malta Football Association, through its Referees’ Department, organised a half-day seminar for Referees’ Talents and Mentors on Saturday 6th October at the MFA Technical Centre in Ta’ Qali.

This was the second such seminar organised for talents and their mentors, who are now in their second year of the programme, following last season’s successful first conducted by UEFA Convention Specialist and CORE Coach Jorn West Larsen from Denmark in January 2012. Mentors of referees who do not form part of the programme were also invited to attend.

Victor Mintoff, the Talent and Mentor Programme Coordinator, introduced the seminar by giving an overview of why and how this Programme was set-up. He said that talents selected had to be 32 years or younger and were put under the care of a mentor who was himself a former referee or a former assistant referee. Not more than four talents from each category of referees were selected so that the required individual attention could be given. Victor Mintoff then declared the Seminar open and invited Director of Refereeing Adrian Casha to address those present.

Following a brief address of welcome, Adrian Casha gave a presentation about ‘What is Mentoring?’ Adrian Casha highlighted the mentor’s main task of helping referees improve their refereeing skills. This he would do by trying to find and reinforce their positive points and also identify points for improvement. The mentor should be critical in order to push them to their maximum limits. The talents on their part, should be active and open minded and should keep regular contact with their mentor to ask him to focus on specific matters that can help them in their development.

Alexander Arena, the Recruitment and Retention Officer, lectured about ‘Personality’. He said the personality of the referee was of utmost importance not only on the field of play but also off it. His outlook and integrity are continuosly being exposed and being judged by one and all at whatever place he is. He emphasised that the mentor’s personality is also at stake in this regard. Alex Arena gave a lot of ‘food for thought’ through visual aids.

Alan Mario Sant, a FIFA Referee, talked about ‘The Way to the Top and to Stay There’. He emphasised to his younger colleagues how important it is to have targets, achievable ones, and work hard to reach them. One should be patient and endevour to attain his goals step by step. Whatever level he reaches, a referee’s aim should always be ‘What is my next step now?’ Above all, one must be respectful to his colleagues, his mentors and superiors and remains humble and be a man of integrity to remain at the top.

Adrian Casha then tested those present’s wits by analysing match situations on DVD clips. This turned out to be a very interesting exercise and showed that while some situations were quite straight forward, others were very difficult to reach consensus on. And this shows how difficult the referee’s job is and how much the mentors and referee observers need to support the referee.

It was then the turn of Elite Referee Kevin Azzopardi, who was the first to have attended a UEFA CORE Programme, to lecture about ‘What a Talent Expects from a Mentor’. Amongst other things, he said a talent expects to receive continuous feedback and advice on areas that both he and the mentor feel he must improve upon. The talent also expects the mentor to make him reach his goals, both nationally and internationally. The talent expects the mentor to reinforce his positive points while ascertaining that he makes him improve his shortcomings.

Victor Mintoff gave a briefing about ‘What Mentors Expect from their Talents’. He started by quoting from David Elleray “A talent doesn’t mean that you have achieved something, it means we think that you have the possibility to achieve something.” So mentors expect that talents make the most of their potential. They should take an interest and show commitment. Those who do not, will be removed from the programme. Mentors expect that talents make their targets known to them and be honest when analyzing their performances after each match. They expect that talents remain in constant contact with them and attend the organised evaluation meetings regularly. Above all, mentors expect that their talents accept criticism, not without question, but demonstrate a willingness to adapt or change.

Finally, Victor Mintoff thanked all those present for their attendance and active participation and the lecturers for their interesting expositions.