Second annual Referee Academy Weekend

The second successive annual Referee Academy Weekend organised by the Refereeing Department of the Malta Football Association was held between Friday 11th and Sunday 13th January 2013, at the Bayview Hotel, The Strand, Gżira.

A total of twenty-one students (fourteen boys and seven girls) attended for this activity-packed weekend. The group were accompanied by instructors Messrs Adrian D. Casha (Director of Refereeing), Alexander Arena (Academy Co-ordinator), Silvio Tanti (Fitness Co-ordinator), and coordinator Ms Helga Chircop (Assistant Refereeing Services).

On assembly at the venue’s conference centre on Friday afternoon, the group were greeted by Mr Charles Agius (Chairman, Referees’ Committee) who, in his opening address, re-affirmed the investment, dedication and committment that the Referees’ Department is giving in the running of the Academy. Mr Casha also welcomed the group and stressed on the importance that such activities have in shaping the future of young match officials. Messrs Arena and Tanti then explained the programme throughout the whole weekend, while briefing the group on their expected work to be carried out and behaviour.

After dinner, the group participated in a workshop that analysed the matches played in the various Christmas Tournaments. Five Academy students who were involved in two of these matches were asked to comment on their performance as reported by the referee observers. The session was very professionally-managed and the officials involved were open to constructive criticism and receptive to the various points of improvement noted. The session was presented by Mr Arena, who explained the methodology used in the process of how marks are gained and lost when a referee observer gives the final performance mark.

The group was then allowed one hour of free time which was spent in the hotel games room, during which numerous team-building activities (such as pool, other games and internet browsing) were carried out.

On Saturday morning, after an early breakfast, the group were given an overview of Law 12 – Fouls & Misconduct and shown FIFA Video Clips on the subject to help them arrive at the correct decisions. Mr Casha conducted this presentation in an enjoyable quiz-like session that was well-liked by the students. Next on the programme, Mr Tanti led the group for a two kilometer run; followed by a practical training session and a football match held at Stella Maris College Football Pitch (which was kindly made available to the Referees’ Academy by the De La Salle Brothers).

In the afternoon, the group were taken to watch the BOV Premier League match Valletta vs Birkirkara at the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali, where they had the opportunity to meet the team of match officials made up of Messrs Alan Mario Sant, Alan Camilleri, Alex Grech and Mario Apap, who explained how they were preparing for the match and gave a detailed explanation of all the equipment to be used during the course of it. Hosted at the VIP section, the group were given the task of taking notes on the referees’ performance, and had to list three positive points and three development points.

Back at the hotel, before dinner the group attended Holy Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Martin Bruno. After dinner, FIFA Referee Mr Kevin Azzopardi conducted a quiz on the FIFA Laws of the Game: the students were divided into seven groups and competed in the FIFA Referee Assistance Programme 2012. The results achieved were more than expected for such young aspiring officials.

On Sunday morning, Mr Casha conducted a post-mortem of the previous day’s Premier League match analysis; followed by a one-to-one session with Referee Alan Mario Sant and Assistant Referee Alan Camilleri – the students not only discussed their notes with the officials but also had the opportunity to be given an explanation as to why certain decisions were taken. Messrs Sant and Camilleri also gave a presentation on The Role of the Referee on the FIFA Panel, outlining the sacrifices involved and the benefits to be reaped.

Later in the morning, Mr Casha gave a presentation on the Requisites of a Match Official during which the group were guided through the various factors that make a good referee.

In the afternoon, Mr Arena delivered a presentation on Personality which further highlighted the manner in which the students are expected to act socially now that they are on the road to becoming ‘public’ figures and future ‘role models’. The last session of this successful weekend was conducted by Messrs Lawrence Sammut and Alexander Spiteri, President and Secretary respectively of the Malta Football Referees Association, who explained the role of the association.

The closing address was given by MFA Technical Director Mr Robert Gatt.