28 April 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic has brought football to a standstill across Southern Africa, but that does not mean the work stops for COSAFA behind the scenes, with the training of match officials in the region continuing through this period.
Renowned COSAFA Referees Manager Felix Tangawarima, who is also a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Referees Committee and a FIFA technical instructor, has made sure the match officials are keeping physically and technically on the ball with online courses so that when football does resume, they are ready to go.
This special program is being led by the COSAFA Referees Department under the watchful eye of Tangawarima, and had been a great success so far.
“We have created three groups of referees in both the male and female category – Under-17, Under-20 and senior, with each group having close to 100 referees, for a total of approximately 300 in our training pool,” Tangawarima says.
“Every country from COSAFA is represented in all the levels of the groups. In addition, all the local Instructors who have gone through the FIFA Futuro III courses from the region have also been in co-opted into the project.
“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we put two challenging match situation clips with lots of learning elements on our platform, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The Instructors are then allocated to these three groups to lead the discussions.
“After about two hours of discussion on a clip, the Instructors then give them the correct answer with additional comments on the understanding football and other relevant information.”
Tangawarima says this has been a period to test the skills of not only the match officials, but also the Instructors, who need to keep their teaching skills sharp.
“This has proved to be very educational and helpful to our referees and Instructors during this period when there is no activity on the field of play. As a way to develop our Instructors, we are also using the same clips to have them discuss the various issues.”
Tangawarima adds that as well as the theory, it is also important to keep the match officials physically fit during a period when many of them are at home in lockdown in their countries.
“Our physical coaches have designed some daily training programs for the referees which are done in their houses or around their yards. Derek Henson, the COSAFA Regional Physical Coach, monitors the referees training activities through their Polar watches, some of which are linked to him by GPS, and with the help of all our physical coaches in the region.”
The COSAFA program has also received the support of the CAF, through Referees Development Officer and Instructor Jerome Damon from South Africa, and FIFA Instructor Lim Kee Chong, who hails from Mauritius.
“We want to acknowledge the unwavering support we are getting from them. CAF have sent their appreciation to what we are doing and have encouraged us to continue with this very important regional project.
“This program has helped us to further identify talent, especially from within our development groups in the Under-17 and Under-20 age groups, who have proved to have very intelligent young referees.”