Local referees and assistant referees were on Saturday sent into a series of gut wrenching fitness tests at the Leonora National Track and Field facility with an overall pass rate of 63% for the group of 27 officials tested.
This is part and parcel of the ongoing assessments by FIFA to ensure match officials are able to cope with the demands of topflight and international football.
Five out of six elite group male referees, all six elite group male assistant referees and three out of five female assistant referees passed the tests.
“Fitness tests are very essential,” said Guyana Football Federation Executive Committee member and President of the Guyana Football Referees’ Council Dion Inniss. “The game demands very fit match officials – as fit as the players. We administer these tests at least three times a year to ensure that our match officials are in peak condition.”
FIFA toughened up the fitness tests for referees last year, as part of efforts to ensure that match officials could keep pace with the intense energy of top-flight international football. Within a short time limit, referees are required to complete a test for “repeated sprint ability” with six bursts over 40 metres, and an “interval” test of a series of 40 consecutive, high-speed runs over 75 metres that are interspersed with 25-metre recovery, walking sections.
Assistant Referees must also complete a “change of direction ability” test, which corresponds to the particular demands of running the line. “You have to prepare to officiate in any conditions,” said 29-year-old former football player and referee, Gladwin Johnson from Berbice. “The game demands fitness from the referee – the modern game is much faster, so we have to keep ourselves fit as referees.”
The tests are part of FIFA’s continuous worldwide assessment of member association-affiliated match officials, alongside an annual medical examination. Failure to pass the tests means that match officials are not eligible to take part in elite professional competitions or matches organised by the national member association, CONCACAF or FIFA.
Unfortunately some of Guyana’s lower level male referees and Assistant Referees did not meet the strict fitness requirements for international referees.