Antigua’s assistant referee Abigail McKenzie and assessor in training Patrice Davis are among 51 aspiring officials currently on duty at the 2022 CFU Boys’ U14 Challenge Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The competition, which features 22 teams divided into two tiers, is the introduction to international for the young players. It is also offering, to match officials aiming to matriculate to the next level, vital training under the tutelage of some of the region’s finest.
Head of Refereeing Caribbean at Concacaf Dave Meikle, who oversees the match official development program, said the Challenge Series is important in furthering the Caribbean
Football Union’s aim of qualifying more referees to world tournaments.
But first he addressed the job at hand, saying, “These match officials in training are being exposed to a professional way of training by the instructors. We are trying to equip them with the skills to take part effectively in the tournament.”
“We have aspiring referees and we also have inspiring instructors and assessors. This underscores the importance of this tournament, because, here, we are exposing the instructors who we expect to go back to their MAs (Member Associations) to provide the guidance to their national match officials,” Meikle said.
“They are enthusiastic and want to reach the top,” he added of the group.
Barbadian referee Shireen Alleyne cosigns that aspiration. She’s in Santo Domingo fresh from the Concacaf U-15 in Tampa, Florida and with two Challenge Series under her belt.
“I am hoping this will be another step to get me to my (FIFA) badge for the coming year,” she said, noting her progression and the feedback buoys her.
Peter Prendergast, a FIFA referee turned FIFA Technical Instructor who’s in Santo Domingo, hailed the developmental focus.
“It is important that the fundamentals are ingrained in their minds early. They are very enthusiastic; some are in very good condition. Now we have to work on their minds, in opening their minds to accept the concepts that will move them to the other level,” Prendergast said of the referees.
Besides Meikle and Prendergast, the panel of facilitators comprises Irazema Aguilar (assessor); Valentino Chance (instructor); Cardella Samuels (assessor); Neal Brizan (assessor);
Clemroy Francois (assessor); Jesus Lebron (assessor); Rohan Thobourne (assessor/instructor); and Victor Stewart (instructor). (CFU)