Football Kenya Federation kicked off a 5-day FIFA referee assessment program yesterday, Sunday, December 3, 2023 at Kipchoge Keino Stadium.

This is the first time after a period of four years that this assessment has been conducted in the country owing to the Covid-19 pandemic which was followed by the country’s suspension by FIFA earlier in 2022.

FIFA Technical Instructor Carlos Henriques spearheaded the sessions, overseeing the participation of 32 referees, including elite referees like Gilbert Cheruiyot and Mary Njoroge.

Participants expressed optimism of making the FIFA list, following in the footsteps of their counterparts such as Gilbert Cheruiyot, Peter Kamaku and Mary Njoroge.

FIFA referee Gilbert Cheruiyot, emphasized the demanding journey referees undertake, saying, “Kenyan referees are among the best in Africa. As a referee, you have no option but to train hard and work on your body weight.” He stressed the essence of discipline and rigorous training required to excel in officiating.

Mary Njoroge, having officiated as an assistant referee at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup had learnt a lot of technical aspects in her gloabal assignments and is hoping to be in the next women’s women’s world cup.

She shared her insights, stating, “I advise referees to work hard. There is no shortcut. It is just working.”

Carlos Henriques, the FIFA Referees Technical Instructor, shared on the strict criteria set by FIFA, stating, “The requirements are strict, especially the fitness and knowledge of the game, the interpretation of laws of the game and how to apply them on the field of play.”

Antony Makau, FKF Referees Committee Chairman, expressed optimism in the potential of the Eldoret-trained referees, affirming, “Our aim is to see as many Kenyan referees as possible rising to the FIFA-accredited level.” This determination reflects FKF’s commitment to nurturing and uplifting Kenyan officiating standards.

Despite suspension from FIFA the referees department continued in its efforts of improving referee levels,

“We were out following the FIFA suspension. Being out of the FIFA map was distressing. As the referees department (at FKF) we did our best. We had our referees officiating in AFCON,” he mentioned.

Sylvester Kirwa, FKF Referees Manager, highlighted the comprehensive nature of the training, stating, “By Friday, the referees will have upped their game in terms of rules. The training is happening at high altitude and we have to up our game.”

He also highlighted that a number of young referees in their early 20s were being prepared for the future.

FKF’s efforts in conducting referee assessments and training would represent Kenya’s improvement in football officiating. The dedication shown by referees and the structured training programs signal a promising future for Kenyan referees aspiring to attain international recognition.

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