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President of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League Keith Look Loy said he will “welcome” any initiative to improve the standard of refereeing in this country, as there is a shortage of top football officials.

Look Loy, who is also the coach of FC Santa Rosa in the Super League, made the statement following the news that seven local officials received their FIFA badges on Thursday at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Look Loy has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the standard of refereeing in TT in the past and his club even takes its own footage of games to highlight glaring mistakes.

At the press conference on Thursday, president of the TT Football Association (TTFA) David John-Williams also announced that steps will be taken to improve local officials.

John-Williams said plans are being made to have training camps at the Ato Boldon Stadium for referees. “I want to make the commitment to the referees department and the referees committee that when the home of football (in Couva) is built, we will reserve at least 10 rooms, over systematic periods, where we will have training camps for the referees. When they come here on a Saturday or Sunday for training, they can live here,” John-Williams said.

John-Williams said despite being in debt, the TTFA will find ways to get more young people involved in refereeing by offering incentives.

“We will see if we could find money to pay referees a retainer – a small retainer – that they could attend training so that will be an encouragement for them to come to training,” he said.

John-Williams said that initially the TTFA will look for a group between 15 and 20 officials to participate in the live-in camp.

Look Loy, in an interview with Newsday, said he was glad to hear that John-Williams wants to improve the standard of referees. However, he said having seven local referees getting FIFA badges is not much to celebrate.

“Any initiative by anyone to improve referees in this country is welcome. Refereeing is in a bad way. There was an event yesterday (Thursday) in which the TTFA was touting the appointment of seven referees. This is being touted as progress – it is not. This is a reflection of the decline in standards in local refereeing because last year we had 12 FIFA referees – not seven. We had more FIFA referees last year,” Look Loy said.

Look Loy, responding to the TTFA’s aim to give referees retainer contracts, said, “If this is put before the board of the TTFA and there is discussion, well fine. But I am saying as things stand now, there is little financial incentive for referees. Referees don’t even have insurance.”

Look Loy said more incentive will help the recruitment process, as some referees currently in the profession are not suitable for refereeing. “Once we provide adequate incentive, we could have a better recruitment drive, and we could recruit better refereeing material. This is one of the issues, the people who are coming into refereeing many of them are ill-suited,” he said.