The FIFA Member Association Course for referees highlights this year’s referee instruction during Development Academy Finals Week that kicks off July 9 in Milwaukee, Wis. For the first time, the course will occur concurrently with Finals Week as 30 referees will receive instruction and training in the morning and then officiate matches in the afternoon.
Two experienced former FIFA referees, Peter Prendergast and Ramesh Ramdhan, will teach the course, providing U.S. Soccer referees working in the Development Academy with expert insight and mentoring. Prendergast, a native of Jamaica, has officiated at several major international tournaments including the 2002 World Cup. Ramdhan, who began his international career in 1979, is a former FIFA referee from Trinidad and Tobago who officiated at the 1998 World Cup.
As part of the program, the referees will first participate in FIFA fitness testing in order to gain a better understanding of the international standards and requirements. For the remaining days, the referees will receive classroom educational instruction and on-field practical training totaling approximately 20 hours.
“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to offer a FIFA Member Association course to our developing referees,” said Herb Silva, Director of Professional Referee Development at U.S. Soccer. “By receiving training and evaluation from former FIFA officials, our young referees will gain valuable practical knowledge and at the same time get a picture of what it takes to officiate at the highest level.”
The inclusion of the FIFA Member Association Course has allowed the Development Academy Finals Week to expand their referee pool. Last year, only 16 referees participated in the event, while this year a total of 30 will be present.
Of these 30 referees, 27 are male and three are female coming from across the United States. Eight of the referees are center referees - including two females with experience officiating WPS matches - who have been specifically identified by U.S. Soccer as having potential for accelerated progression into the professional ranks. The remaining 22 referees were recommended by their state associations or identified at the Development Academy Playoffs for quality performances.
Six of the referees are repeat participants in Finals Week. The referee group will also receive mentoring from experienced MLS referees Alex Prus and Abbey Okulaja throughout the event.
“The Academy was designed to identify and develop those candidates that have the potential for a professional career,” added Silva. “Finals Week is another great mechanism to help advance their progress.”