GFF referees ramp up preparations for ‘return to play’


The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) completed a high-level, Concacaf-facilitated referee seminar this weekend, the first in-person referee programme since 2019, as the nation’s match officials accelerate their preparations for the highly-anticipated return to play.

The sessions, including fitness, classroom and on-field time at the GFF National Training Centre, Providence, were facilitated by Concacaf Elite Assessor and Head of Refereeing for the Bahamas Football Association, Dianne Ferreira-James- a Guyanese national who has refereed at every tournament level in the FIFA and Concacaf competitions roster.

“The session has achieved its first objective, which is to ensure the referees come together in fellowship for the sharing of knowledge,” said GFF Executive Committee member and Head of Refereeing Dion Inniss.

“The aim of the Refereeing Department is to ensure we have fit, highly motivated and competent referees taking charge of the sport in all its forms in Guyana,” he said.

“This programme will go a far way in ensuring that.”

Referees going through their paces

During the seminar, which ran from August 6-8, participants had the opportunity to review and revise the Laws of the Game, enact match scenarios and discuss challenging moments that arise during competitions, such as offside decisions, fouls and handballs.

“I was very impressed with the level of the referees despite the pandemic,” said Ferreira-James.

“Many of them would have been reading the Laws of the Game and trying to stay updated. It was very interactive and they were very receptive. I am hopeful that this group of referees will continue to grow and make the GFF Refereeing Department one to reckon with in CFU, Concacaf and FIFA.”

While the GFF has conducted online courses for its referees, the seminar was the first delivered face-to-face since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GFF will host its annual Referees Assistance Programme (RAP) later this month as another big step towards the eventual resumption of play, which requires the green light from the national authorities.

Referees and officials of the GFF

“This course puts them in good stead. Our match officials will be well prepared to ensure they do well in that RAP,” Inniss said.

Participant Kenisha Prescott, 24, said the seminar was “very informative” and a “very good initiative.”

“It was needed at this moment because we have been away from football for a while,” she said. “These sessions build on our knowledge and give us insights into what other referees might think and also clear up some grey areas.”

GFF President Wayne Forde observed that the sessions were a vital part of getting ready to deliver competitions as soon as the authorities grant approval to the Federation’s “return to play” roadmap, which was developed in conjunction with UEFA.

“This event is just the beginning in a series of referee training programmes that will take place over the coming months as we prepare to get back to competition,” he said.

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