Pre-season seminar for national grassroots, non-league match officials and referee observers

The pre-season seminar for national grassroots and non-league match officials and referee observers was held at the National Sports School in Pembroke.

In his introduction, Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi welcomed participants (around 90) and UEFA lecturer Alan Snoddy who once again accepted our invitation to conduct this seminar.

Kevin Azzopardi said that this is a continuation with the theme GO FOR GOLD applied for the pre-season seminar for Elite Referees in Germany a month before – one must get out of the comfort zone and work hard with the aim to reach the highest level possible in refereeing.  

“We all have different qualities and characters but we must be in this project together to develop the next generation of match officials – the opportunities are there for everybody who is willing to grab them,” Azzopardi said.

For us “good is not good enough” – in its ongoing efforts to enhance refereeing standards at all levels of Maltese football, the Refereeing Department is willing to provide the best possible education, so much so that as from this season a member within the Referees’ Committee has been appointed as Education Officer.

Finally he said that an effort has to be made to forget the past (but learn from it!) and look to the future; we have to avoid the obstacle tempting us being faultfinders in others and instead find time to correct our own mistakes – being humble together with showing respect to all those involved in the game, is a big step forward.

During the seminar, participants took part in theoretical sessions which included a video test and a Laws of the Game test, and a session on advantage during which UEFA match situations were analysed in small groups and the appropriate interpretation reached.

Match officials had separate sessions on Physical Preparation and Remote Training, Fitness Tests, Body Fat and Fitness Tests Review, practical sessions run by their physical trainers at the nearby Luxol Stadium (the latter were filmed to be analysed in the near future), and a team-building exercise.

Referee observers had their own sessions: on administrative matters; a detailed review by Kevin Azzopardi of a UEFA Under-17 match (after they watched the match at home and submitted their report + match officials’ marks) which confirmed the importance of uniformity between referee observers, based on UEFA guidelines; and a talk on Being a Coach not a Fault Finder (by Alan Snoddy)  who emphasised that the final assessment mark should reflect the contents of the whole report.  

Mr Snoddy’s other lectures focused on Management of Players (free kick management, dissent and that mobbing must stop, time-management); Effective Communication (movement / positioning, eye-to-eye contact, use of voice) to arrive at the correct decision; and Crucial Decisions in a Match (re. awareness, positive / negative decisions which effect it and to learn from same after self-analysis).  

While conducting all presentations and discussions, apart from continuously sharing his vast experience, Alan Snoddy always reminded match officials to have a well-stocked, good quality ‘bag of tools’ to help them solve problems consisting, amongst others, of sensible interpretation and application of the Laws of the Game within the spirit of the match, personality, body language, building relationships.

Also present towards the end of the seminar was Miguel Solis Vazquez, Manager responsible for the Referee Convention and the CORE Programme within the UEFA Refereeing Department, who although in Malta on a private visit, still felt the need to pledge his support by attending part of the seminar. He stressed that the Malta FA Refereeing Centre is one of the most active within UEFA and that he admires its leadership trio for always being on the lookout to provide new and challenging opportunities for its match officials.

In his final comment, Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi thanked everyone for the interest and cooperation shown during the running of this three-day seminar, and encouraged “Let’s have a good season together!”