The Malta FA’s Referees’ Committee is mainly composed of former referees with several years of experience, who meet regularly and discuss policy matters in the interests of referees and refereeing in general.
The Committee implements its policies on subjects such as recruitment and retention of referees, referees’ appointments, referees’ observer reports, media matters, introductory and refresher courses, technical meetings and seminars, and mental, physical and technical preparation.
The Malta FA became a signatory of the UEFA Convention on Referee Education and Organisation on 25th March 2009. This affiliation over the past seven years is proof enough of the high standard maintained in local refereeing and encourages all those involved in this sector to aim towards higher objectives in the years to come. Today the Convention embraces all 54 UEFA Member Associations.
On the FIFA International Lists, the Malta FA is represented by four referees and eight assistant referees on the Men’s Referees’ List, one referee on the Women’s Referees’ List, two referees on the Men’s Futsal Referees’ List and two referees on the Beach Soccer Referees’ List.
The Referees’ Committee is fully aware that our referees’ physical fitness is a top priority in today’s game. The physical progress of our match officials is constantly monitored by Ronald Zammit, who has UEFA CORE (Centre of Refereeing Excellence) Programme experience and participates in the annual RAP (Refereeing Assistance Programme) Courses organised by FIFA & UEFA to update Fitness Coaches across Europe with the latest Fitness regimes. FIFA Fitness Tests for all referee categories are carried out in August and February each season while another two fitness assessments for Elite and Elite Development match Officials are carried out in November and April to ensure that the match officials appointed for league proper matches are fully prepared to give the best possible performances on the field of play.
Technical meetings for all categories of referees and observers are held regularly throughout the season. Such sessions also include an analysis of local match incidents which require discussion, guidance and ruling. The editing of match incidents is carried out by former FIFA Referee Lawrence Sammut.
As from the beginning of season 2014-2015, Malta FA Vice President Alex Manfre has been occupying the Chairmanship of the Referees’ Committee, while former International Referee and Malta’s first participant at the UEFA CORE Programme 1, held in September 2010, Kevin Azzopardi is the Director of Refereeing. Philip Agius and Andre Arciola in their role as Assistant Directors of Refereeing together with Helga Chircop as Assistant Refereeing Services and Secretary of the Referees’ Committee, assist Kevin Azzopardi in the day to day running of the Refereeing Centre, which is one of the most active within the Malta FA. As Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi is also the reference person for UEFA Convention matters related to Malta and has recently participated in the annual FIFA/UEFA RAP Course held in San Marino, apart from being directly responsible for the Elite Unit.
The new Refereeing Centre offices opened in November 2012 adjacent to the Centenary Stadium have now not only become an administrative block but also a Learning Centre for referees and observers.
To date, refereeing exchange programmes as an initiative of the agreements reached between the Malta FA and the Football Associations of Andorra, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, Finland, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Greece, Holland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, San Marino, Turkey and Wales, have been established. Apart from seminars and similar refereeing events, these exchanges made it possible for match officials to take control of international friendlies and domestic league matches.
In November 2015, a Talent and Mentor Programme 2015–2017 was launched. The programme aims to identify our young talents and help them develop further their refereeing skills. At present, this programme is being carried out with the assistance of four former match officials, namely Philip Agius, Paul Caruana, Gaetano De Gabriele and Stephen Mallia. The latter has also been appointed as the Head of the COREMALTA programme that has been launched in August 2016.
A new project in order to attract young people towards taking up a refereeing career was launched in December 2011 in the form of a Refereeing Academy. Paul Caruana is currently responsible with the Academy’s set-up for recruitment of new referees. The fifth group consisting of 20 participants is currently undergoing the necessary apprenticeship to acquire basic knowledge of what officiating entails. As from August 2016, Paul Caruana is also occupying the position of Head Recruitment & Retention Unit.
Former FIFA Assistant Referee Philip Agius is the specialist entrusted with the development of assistant referees through the Assistants’ Unit, while former FIFA Futsal Referee Gjergji Bitri is in charge of Futsal and Beach Soccer refereeing matters.
Further new appointments were confirmed in August 2016 as former FIFA Referee Adrian Azzopardi was appointed as Head National Unit while Andre Arciola will lead the Grassroots Unit. Also, Alexander Arena has been entrusted to head the Observers’ and Instructors’ Unit.
The Referees’ Committee for season 2016-2017 is composed as follows:
Deputy Chairman: Charles Agius
Director of Refereeing:Kevin Azzopardi
Members: Philip Agius. Andre Arciola, Alexander Arena, Adrian Azzopardi, Gjergji Bitri, Paul Caruana, Stephen Mallia and an MFRA Representative (Observer Status)
More information about refereeing may be obtained from the Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi at firstname.lastname@example.org