The SAFA Referees Development Programme (RDP) has long prided itself in training some of the best referees in the world as evidenced by the selection of three South African referees to officiate in the 1998 World Cup and continuing appointments to continental competitions. These referees’ development did not occur in a vacuum. The quality of the training and the experience gained from officiating at a very high level has stood them in good stead.
However, we pledge to do more because the programme itself is in dire need of a coherent structure that clearly identifies the role players, delineates their competencies and sets measurable outcomes as goals to be achieved. By doing so, we can establish mechanisms for evaluation and improvement. For example, who teaches and who takes the various development courses from Regional to National to International?
The NEC has recently restructured the National Referees Committee (NRC) to meet these needs. The convenor of the SAFA Development Committee is now the Convenor of the NRC. His appointment will assist the committee in placing the Referees Development Programme on a par with the Administrators Development Programme (ADP). The following priorities were then established:
We must institute an annual review of our referees training methods by recognised learning professionals to ensure that we maintain the best quality training system. Using this regular quality review system we can determine whether the pedagogical techniques currently in use (rote learning and practical demonstration) are by themselves sufficient for a modern game that calls for a great deal more subjectivity and intuition. The rote learning style is probably not suitable for conditions where a great deal of interpretation is needed;
We must clearly articulate the different levels of training and how and where these take place. Currently, our referees development system produces four competency levels: district, intermediate, premier / first division and international.
The system has also produced more than 50 Referees Trainers who can teach at the district level. CAF and FIFA Referee trainers normally teach and test our referees to determine who gets international qualification. Premier and First Division referees are tested by a special panel appointed by the NRC. All the referees at other levels are taught by the National Referees Development Officer. This system is in need of immediate change as follows:
Ordinarily, the National Referees Development Officer is invited by the 25 SAFA Regions to conduct referees training at the district level. Given that there are more than 50 District-level Referees Instructors, we must utilise National Referees Development Officers as trainers and evaluators of District-level Referees Instructors instead of the National Referees Development Officers.
Additionally, we must differentiate between the district-level referee and the officials who do duty in the SAFA Second Division. We should construct a panel of referees for the Second Division who will have to meet certain professional criteria before being appointed to the panel in much the same way as we currently do for the Premier / First Division leagues.
Therefore, we shall then have six levels of competencies, each one a step to the next level until the international grade is reached. These competencies are: District, Intermediate, Second Division, First Division, Premier, International. The syllabi for each of these levels must then be subjected to a rigorous quality assurance process to ensure that the instruction provided is appropriate for the various levels.
Summary of the Referees Development Programme
In light of the above, the SAFA Referees Department is guided by the following six-point programme to assure the best quality refereeing programme:
- A modern, constantly upgraded Referees Development Programme. The Referees Development Programme will be housed in the SAFA Academy to ensure its long-term viability and the contributing oversight received from the NRC, the SAFA Development Committee and the SAFA Technical Committee, all three of whom have defined roles in referees development;
- A sensible referees appointments system;
- A Match Inspection Programme comprised of well-trained Match Inspectors;
- A Match Review System – subordinated under the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee – with NRC members comprising the review panels;
- A Referees Disciplinary Process – subordinated under the SAFA Disciplinary Committee – with NRC members comprising the disciplinary panels;
A Referees Reward System to recognise outstanding performances of referees throughout the year.