By Neto Baptiste
Former on-field referee turned referee assessor, Denmore Roberts, said there has been a concerted effort by officials to foster better relationships with coaches and other bench officials in the ongoing ABFA leagues.
The official made the revelation during a recent interview on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, during which he sought to allay concerns of acrimonious relationships between referees and bench officials, especially during Premier Division matches hosted at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG).
“We have asked the referees in Antigua and Barbuda to build relationships with the coaches, and to remember that the coaches are an integral part of the game. [Also], the game is an emotional game and coaches are going to get emotional. So you would notice that recently, you would not see Debu [Rolston Williams of Parham] heading to the stands too often, because we are advocating for them to speak to Debu in a professional manner, in a respectful way and try to build relationships,” he said.
“When Pretty Boy [Derrick Edwards of Grenades] flares up and flings his arms in the air, understand that he is a coach that is frustrated with something that has happened, and not treat it as though he is after you,” he added.
In the past, there have been reports of verbal exchanges between coaches and bench officials while some coaches have seemingly fallen into the “bad books” of some officials and are often penalised for “minor” offences.
Roberts said referees have been asked to take a fresh approach but reminded that for this to work, the effort has to be mutual.
“There is nothing wrong if a coach expresses himself using some adjectives to describe how his players are playing, but do not use the adjectives to describe the referee, so it has to be a two way street. The coaches have to understand that the referees have a job to do and do certain basic things that referees do. When they go into the dressing room, [they] have to check the boots, the numbers, the jewellery; we have to spend a couple of minutes to get this done because this is a requirement. So, being upset because we are ready to check when you are not, it doesn’t help,” the official said.
“The referees are given a time sheet by the match coordinators who tell us what time we go to the dressing room, what time call them back in from the warm up.”
Referees have come under fire recently over the level of officiating in the ABFA’s top flight with some coaches labelling the standard as “poor”, and that it has often cost their teams dearly. Roberts had earlier said that referees have been overworked given that there are not enough referees that would comfortably allow them adequate rest periods between matches.