By Albert Akota
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has concluded all arrangements to send the best of Nigerian referees to the United Kingdom for a special refresher course beginning in the first week of December.
The three week capacity building exercise is aimed at preparing the best of Nigerian arbiters to become better officiating officials in the coming years and to enhance their opportunities of commanding greater recognition by international soccer bodies.
According to the President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, this move is part of the vision of the new NFF Executive Committee to enhance the capacity of our referees for the kind of prominence on the international stage that a leading football powerhouse like Nigeria deserves.
“The new NFF Board is determined to train and retrain our referees, as well as coaches and administrators with an eye on better output. There is no reason why Nigerian referees should not be holding their own globally. We have the men and women, and all they need do is enhance their knowledge of modern techniques of the profession.
“In another six months, we will get another company to sponsor another batch of referees to another refresher course. It is a continuous exercise. But selection of beneficiaries will be based on performance on the domestic scene.”
Pinnick says one of the cardinal programmes of his administration is to improve refereeing in Nigeria, and he sees no reason why a Nigerian referee should not be on duty at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.
The eleven lucky arbiters on the trip to England in this first phase, who will be led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Referees Association, Alhaji Ahmed Maude and the Chairman of NFF Referees Committee, Alhaji Yusuf Ahmed ‘Fresh’, are Ferdinand Udoh, Abdullahi Shuaibu, Usman Isah, Samuel Pwadutakan, Orowole Tope, Egudia Efosa, Peter Ogwu, Paul Umuago, Musa Dung Davon, Olayinka Olayide and Ukah Ndubuisi.
It would be recalled that as Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, Mr. Amaju Pinnick sent two respected referees, Messrs Paul Umuago and Dave Egho to England for capacity building, and the duo officiated Legends’ games at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, homes of English Premier League topdogs Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC respectively.
The trip is being sponsored by Senforce Insurance Brokers, which also sponsored Umuago and Egho on their trip to England, and which has always partnered Delta State Sports Commission on capacity building.