President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau on Tuesday expressed delight at seeing dozens of young faces during the opening ceremony of a three-pronged refereeing training programme in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“I am very happy to see so many young faces here. Refereeing, like any activity that involves rigorous physical engagement and endurance, is about youthfulness. The biggest problem we have been having in refereeing over the years has been the advanced age of our top referees, so I told the refereeing unit that we must change the template and concentrate on the young ones so that we can accomplish our objective of having our officials at the top end of the rung very soon.
“From this very moment, I want to assure you that the NFF will no longer collect any money from any referee for development/training programmes. That has stopped today. In spite of our limited resources, we will endeavour to organize these developmental programmes every quarter in order to give our referees the best training possible. Our objective is to see them right at the top, and we will continue to support and encourage the work of our referees and the refereeing unit.”
Gusau recalled that at the onset of the new administration, he had insisted on an improved welfare package for referees, in order to dissuade them from unethical conducts. “Our referees must be young, ethically upright and morally faultless to be able to compete favourably with the very best. We will do the best we can to raise a group of arbiters that will always make the country proud.”
Leader of the FIFA instructors, Gladys Lengwe disclosed that the team has identified the crop of 115 participants as “young, vibrant and ambitious,” and capable of taking “refereeing in Nigeria to the next level.” She stated that the referees have acquitted themselves well in the fitness test, and look good to also impress in the technical programme.
The Women Referees’ Course is running concurrently with the Futsal Referees’ Course, to end on Thursday, with the Elite Men Referees’ Course to run 9th – 15th July.
Also at the opening ceremony were NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi; Permanent Secretary, Nasarawa State Ministry of Youth and Sports, Barr. Isaac Danladi; Members of the NFF Referees Committee; NFF Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire; NFF Director of Competitions, Ruth David and; Head of Member Associations, Ali Abubakar Muhammad.