Four match officials, two of which are FIFA referees and two assistant referees, were identified through the Referee Assistance Programme (RAP) and last year underwent a training programme at Sir John Guise Stadium to improve fitness levels and performance.
The assistant referees, formerly known as linesmen, now have the skills to officiate on the sidelines of any FIFA or OFC sactioned tournament when they are called up for duty.
Among them is assistant referee Wanting Yagum, the only female, who officiated during last year’s U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.
Hillary Ani is another assistant referee who has made the step up, this time from assistant to referee.
Ani was accredited as an assistant referee in 2001 when he officiated during the FIFA U-17 World Championship in Trinidad and Tobago, he has also participated in OFC tournaments.
He joins several other Pacific Island referees who are regularly involved in international competitions around the Oceania region and the world.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Albert Maru is another name that has joined the growing list of Pacific Island FIFA officials.
“It’s been a dream of mine to be officiating in other countries. When I was playing soccer, I never made it to see other countries and switching from a player to a match official has now given me a chance to make my dream come true,” Maru says.
According to PNG referee development officer Job Minan the investment the PNGFA has put into its referee programme has paid off, which is evident in the recognition being given to PNG officials by FIFA.
“My focus is on the 2015 Pacific Games where I wish to have a lot of referees from the country gaining FIFA recognition so that we will have enough referees and assistant referees to officiate during the games here in Port Moresby” Minan says.
He adds that those officials currently being recognised are mostly assistant referees with few referees earning their badges.
“My aim now is to make sure a lot of these assistant referees advance to positions as referees.”