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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) has confirmed the creation of its referees’ department, a position that is financially supported by the sport’s world governing body, FIFA.

President of the ABFA and former national striker, Everton Gonsalves, said the body has identified two possible areas where the new department can be housed.

“Because of the space becoming available now at both ends in terms of at the ARG, because we have totally refurbished our offices down there and at Paynters, the referees’ department has two areas where they could operate from because that is a full-time paid position as director of referees. As we speak, the referees committee under the leadership of Rolston James, is doing what a referees’ department would have done,” he said. 

The department would be responsible for all training, recruitment and retention of referees. The department will also prepare game-day schedules and ensure referees are equipped with the proper gear and equipment to get the job done.

Gonsalves said the individual heading the department must meet the required stipulations to do so.

“You must have some administrative capacity. It’s a leadership position so you must understand budgeting and financing and those stuff because those would have to prepare the referees requirements and submit them to the general secretary, the finance department and, obviously, the referees committee would have oversight to see if what they are saying is in order with where referees are supposed to be going,” he said.

The former Villa Lions player went on to state that once the FA has satisfied all the requirements where the setting up of the department is concerned, they will then apply for the available FIFA funding.

“Referees are a very important part of any football association and so we have been getting along quite fine because of the space and we didn’t have a fulltime person. But the time has come since the operations of the ABFA are getting bigger in scope, so we just think now that it is time we look to hire a fulltime director and then apply for the monies that will now have to be sent in relation to a fully functioning [office] with a fulltime referees’ department head,” Gonsalves said.

Currently, former referee and ABFA executive member Rolston James heads the FA’s referees committee which currently manages the process on the association’s behalf. 

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