OFC Elite Referee Seminar prepares officials for 2024 Paris Olympic Games!

OFC match officials heading to 2024 Paris Olympics Games football tournaments honed their skills at an elite referee seminar in Auckland.

Last month, OFC welcomed renowned FIFA instructor Lim Kee Chong to run the FIFA regional instructors’ course for 20 participants.

Chong engaged with instructors teaching them the new training techniques to help elevate the standard of match officials. This involved real in-game practice matches, with teams bringing tactics that put referees in difficult situations. These methods were subsequently implemented by those instructors during the OFC elite referee seminar, where 32 referees engaged in classroom and practical sessions and involved four Auckland clubs over three days.

New Zealand’s Campbell-Kirk Kawana-Waugh, one of three match officials heading to Paris, stressed the importance of such training in enhancing decision-making skills on the field. He will be joined by former school friend and assistant referee Issac Trevis, alongside Solomon Islands’ Bernard Mutukera in Paris.

“It’s super important because outside of games, it’s very difficult to practice dealing with players. For us to be able to look at what we’re doing, how we can do better in this environment. When we go to FIFA tournaments and seminars, it’s the same thing. You go on the field of play with players, they’re replicating situations, you have multiple cameras, and instructors, all eyes are on you,” Kawana-Waugh explained.

“It’s good that we can do it here in Oceania. It’s good for our instructors, it’s good for our officials so that when we go to the high level, it becomes second nature.

“For us to all be on the same page is crucial so that the teams can expect consistency across all the officials it doesn’t matter who’s refereeing the matches it should be the same approach taken by everyone. Heading to Paris it’ll be a similar thing we’ll have time on the field with players where again every movement and every decision is scrutinized. This is great preparation so we can start the process now, and when we get into Paris, it will just be like second nature again to us,” Kawana-Waugh added.

The OFC elite referee seminar plays a pivotal role in enhancing skills and preparing match officials for high-level FIFA tournaments and the Olympics. Paris will be a unique experience for the trio, with the men’s and women’s sides both competing at the same time as all the other sports.

Mutukera said he was “humbled and proud” to be representing his family, country and OFC at a fourth global tournament.

For Kawana-Waugh, heading to Paris holds extra significance, as he follows in the footsteps of his wife, Anna-Marie Keighley, who officiated at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“When the news came through it was exciting for me and all of us. To follow in the footsteps of previous New Zealanders, including my wife was really cool,” said an emotional Campbell-Kirk.

“It’s all in the footsteps towards hopefully the next World Cup. It’s just building blocks and hopefully we can as a trio perform and stay in that frame. Everything is a test for us, so that’s the key to keep the foot in the door for USA 2026.”

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