‘Raising Standards’ was the central theme of a three day pre-season seminar for Elite & Category 1 match officials and Elite Referee Observers at the Centenary Hall in Ta’ Qali.
The participants were welcomed by MFA General Secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti, who highlighted the commitment of the Association to invest in upgrading refereeing standards. Renowned Laws of the Game Instructor David Elleray, who is also IFAB’s Technical Director and UEFA’s Referees Development Panel representative for Malta, was the key speaker invited to the seminar.
In his introduction to the seminar, MFA Vice-President Adrian Casha outlined the importance of setting the bar higher and higher to reach excellence. Adrian Casha encouraged participants not to be afraid of the solitude that comes with raising one’s standards.
David Elleray’s opening session gave an overview of the recent Laws of the Game changes and clarifications. The audience was then engaged in an individual exercise to gauge whether their personal philosophy was in line with applying the ‘spirit’ of the Laws with an understanding of ‘what football expects’.
MFA Referee Instructors Adrian Azzopardi, Adrian Casha, Alex Arena, Charles Agius, Marco Borg and Clayton Pisani covered various aspects of match control, such as teamwork, handball, offside, challenges, advantage, stopping promising attacks and denial of obvious goal-scoring opportunities. Each presentation was followed by a video test, group work and discussion led by keynote speaker David Elleray.
The participants were also given practical advice on how performance can be enhanced through a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle by nutrition specialist Dr Dorianne Caruana Bonnici, while MFA Integrity Officer Dr Herman Mula briefed attendees about the functions of his office and gave an overview of the anti-bribery legislative and regulatory framework.
Referees’ Fitness Coach Ronald Zammit led an outdoor practical session to enable match officials to recover from the previous day’s onerous fitness tests.
Concluding the seminar, Adrian Casha augured participants to benefit fully from attending this seminar by putting into practice what they learnt to raise their standards and achieve positive, credible and consistent performances.
David Elleray’s concluding address on behalf of UEFA praised the attendees’ high level of motivation and participation.
He also thanked outgoing Referees’ Committee Chairman Adrian Casha for his exceptional work and remarked that the appointment of former FIFA Referee Alan Mario Sant as his successor is a guarantee that refereeing in Malta will continue to be managed successfully.
MFA President Bjorn Vassallo attended the closing part of the seminar and appealed to match officials and referee observers for their utmost cooperation by ensuring maximum availability in a season which promises to be very challenging due to the increase in the number of matches in various competitions.