The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has appointed specialised coaches for the country’s top referees in order to help them head in the right direction.
In a chat with ‘AIFF TV’, director of referees Ravishankar J, a former FIFA panel referee himself, termed the programme as “one of the greatest steps” taken by the national federation.
“We thought that since every team has a coach and referees being a team themselves, we thought we should have a coach who would monitor them.
“Usually, the referee assessor (RA) for a game just monitors the performance of the referee or assistant referee in that game. But now, the coach will evaluate only a particular referee’s performance from the batch under him,” Ravishankar said.
Ravishankar spoke about the intention to invest in this new concept and shared how during ISL games, coaches from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) Group helped referees, which helped formulate the idea of appointing coaches for referees.
“In the ISL matches, there have been PGMOL coaches coming in from London. They come to do a number of matches, submit reports to the referees’ department, which is shared with the referees.
“It’s a worthwhile concept because they would give video clips and show supporting documents along with advice. There was never criticism and they would always show areas of improvement.”
The previous reports were always shared with the coaches who are in next in line.
“The best thing was that the previous reports were shared with the next coach who came to evaluate the referees and as he compares them with the earlier reports, we come to know who is on the upward trend,” Ravishankar explained.
In recent times, a number of fresh faces from India have been inducted in the FIFA panel of referees and Ravishankar detailed how the process works, the hard work that goes into entering the panel.
“The number of referees is decided by FIFA taking many factors into consideration and for India.
“It is a quota of six referees and eight assistant referees in men’s football, and two women referees and two women assistant referees. So, a total of 14 of them.”
Referees are also judged on the basis of their performances in local tournaments.
“While fitness and experience are paramount, in the last few years, we have also taken into consideration an evaluation of the referee’s performance in the domestic matches — how his or her contribution is and what the efforts are,” Ravishankar said.