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Time has come for more Kenyan referees to make Fifa list

Football
 Referee Stephen Rimba officiates a match between Bidco United and FC Talanta. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenyan referees are upbeat about meeting Fifa standards, as Football Kenya Federation (FKF) kicked off fitness assessment training in Eldoret after a four-year hiatus.

The five days of referee assessments and Fifa rules training sessions started yesterday at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium, with an aim of increasing the number of elite referees in the Fifa list.

Kenyan referees have not been assessed in the last four years after the Covid-19 pandemic, which was followed by the country’s suspension by Fifa earlier last year.

The suspension occasioned by disbandment of FKF over alleged misappropriation, took effect from February 2022 to November the same year.

On Monday, referees said they are optimistic of making the Fifa list, following in the footsteps of their counterparts Gilbert Cheruiyot, Peter Waweru and Mary Njoroge.

Cheruiyot and Njoroge were among 32 football referees who participated in the Eldoret assessment and training.

“Kenyan referees are among the best in Africa. As a referee, you have no option but to train hard and work on your body weight,” Cheruiyot said.

“The journey of refereeing isn’t easy. You have to maintain discipline.”

Njoroge, who officiated as an assistant referee at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia, said she had learnt a lot of technical aspects in her global assignments.

She said she was hoping to be in the next women’s world cup.

“I advise referees to work hard. There is no shortcut. It is just working,” said Njoroge.

Fifa Referees Technical Instructor Carlos Henriques said the referees are learning the strict requirements to be met before one is certified by the global body.

Henriques said he was yet to identify world class referees on the first day of the training.

“We are going to try to boost Kenyan refereeing. We are sorry that no one from Fifa has been here (in Kenya) for the last four years," the Fifa Technical Instructor said.

“The requirements are strict, especially the fitness and knowledge of the game."

FKF Referees Committee chairman Antony Makau said the group that is training in Eldoret had the potential for Fifa certification.

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