Benjamin: Any coach can referee a school football game

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By Neto Baptiste

Coordinator of schools football, Rowan Benjamin, has sought to justify incidents where coaches and sometimes, students of competing schools, have been allowed to officiate in matches owing to a lack of adequate officials.

Speaking on the issue recently, Benjamin acknowledged that the practice is in fact being allowed, but said in most instances, the matches are started with official referees who are forced to leave early for scheduled matches in the football association matches.

“Any one of the coaches at the Ministry of Sports can, at any time, take up a whistle and carry a game or referee the game. It has happened in basketball, it happens in netball and we have to make a decision as to whether the game is not played or the game is played,” he said.

There have been numerous reports of coaches and sometimes, students playing the role of officials in matches after referees are forced to leave owing the clashes in their schedules.

Even Benjamin, who is also a coach in the league, has been called upon to carry a whistle. The coordinator spoke to a specific incident where he was forced to step in and finish a match.

“In the incident there were three referees who started the match and I realized that there were going to be some problems because those three referees would have to leave to referee the ABFA game and so they took the [school] game for the first half. There was no incident in the match; there was nothing controversial in the match,” he said.

The leagues have also been plagued by numerous forfeitures by some schools because of varying reasons. A lack of finances and the absence of adequate sponsorship have hampered the smooth running of the competitions.

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