Second Concacaf/CFU Next Generation Course opens
Published on 24 January 2023
The second edition of the Concacaf/CFU Next Generation Course opened in Antigua and Barbuda from January 20-22, 2023. Work now continues with virtual sessions.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (January 23, 2023)—The members of the second cohort of the Concacaf/CFU Next Generation Course held in Antigua from January 20-22 showed that they can make the grade during the 2023 edition of the developmental initiative. The Next Generation Course targets match officials who have the requisite skills to matriculate to the FIFA list.
Dave Meikle, Concacaf Refereeing Manager, Kelesha Antoine, FIFA and Concacaf Elite Fitness Instructor, Dianne Ferreira-James, Concacaf Elite Assessor and Instructor, Victor Stewart, FIFA and Concacaf Instructor and Referee Assessor, and Rohan Thobourne, Concacaf Fitness Instructor put the group of 23 through their physical and technical paces over the course of three long days.
The match officials, drawn from 15 Caribbean Football Union Member Associations, also had the added benefit of FIFA referees Stephanie Dale Yee Sing and Mijensa Rensch—the only two Caribbean referees appointed to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer. Yee Sing and Rensch delivered motivational messages to the group, sharing their journeys and offering advice to the next crop of Caribbean referees. More than bringing inspiration, the duo also engaged in the training, as they look prepare for the World Cup.
During the opening ceremony, Meikle referenced the success rate of the class of 2022, noting that 11 of the 25 match officials received appointments to the FIFA International Refereeing Lists. “Soak it up,” was his overarching message.
“Grasp the opportunity to become better. Last year we started this project, and you see how many of the group went on to become FIFA match officials. That says a lot of the program,” Meikle said. “What is left for you to do is to soak up the information you will get over the course of three days in a centralized location.”
CFU Executive Member Gwendolyn Salmon welcomed the match officials to Antigua, also advising them to maximize the opportunity to learn and fellowship. Salmon also declared the course open.
Speaking during introductions, Rensch advised the up-and-coming referees to work hard to keep recalibrating as they achieve their goals.
“You have to put in the work; you have to listen; you have to ask questions. When you go on a tournament, don’t think it’s vacation. When you’re here in the classroom, write. When you go back home, do the same thing they expect from you to do here. Continue the work, and, every time, you need to set a new goal, otherwise you won’t make it,” Rensch said.
Yee Sing, meanwhile, told the group to believe in themselves and to lean into their instructors.
“If you have goals, dreams, aspirations, go for it. Believe in yourself, because you have so many people here supporting you. We didn’t have the opportunity you guys have, so take in the knowledge, aim high, reach high and your attitude will always determine your altitude,” she said.
Besides the aforementioned instructors, the match officials benefitted from sessions on professional development with Sandals Grande Antigua Training and Development Manager Carlene Spencer and on developing mental toughness with Sports Psychologist Launée Richards.
The Next Generation Course actions one of the CFU’s capacity-building strategic objectives of having a panel of referees at every World Cup, starting in 2026. Concacaf provides powerful support for the initiative.
In addition to the intense three-day training, the match officials benefit from ongoing virtual sessions. On a system of meritocracy, they can also look forward to additional technical and practical training with appointments to the CFU Girls’ Under-14 Challenge Series scheduled for August.