Virtual technology expands referee training globally

Oct. 27, 2020 @ 11:45 UTC

In a turbocharged response to COVID-19, the global peak body for Touch, the Federation of International Touch (FIT) has announced a massive 100% uptake for its refereeing training courses in several key emerging markets this year.

Using video training modules delivered via Zoom in combination with cloud technologies such as DropBox and WeTransfer, and with analysis and advice facilitated through breakout chatrooms, hundreds of new refereeing recruits have taken FIT’s 

Introductory Level Referees Course in 2020

“By embracing the latest technology we have increased our referee training output by more than 100% compared to 2019 in parts of the world where our game is rapidly emerging such as the Pacific, as well as South and North America,” said Ian (Matto) Matthew, Head of Referees Commission, FIT. 

“This training rollout included the delivery of our first online coaching workshop for more experienced referees in the Americas, which was a joint venture between Chile and the USA.”

The courses are available to the federation’s 46 member nations in Africa, North and South America, Asia, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. The game’s peak body has two virtual training courses scheduled for Fiji in October, as well as another in Singapore.

Pivoting into technology

Faced with travel restrictions and social distancing measures that forced the cancellation of domestic and international Touch events including the European Championship and the inaugural Asian Cup in Shanghai, FIT needed to act fast.

Ian said, “We were compelled to look for ways to stay connected with our international referees and maintain their high-level tuition and enthusiasm and cater to new talent.

“Like many organisations at the beginning of COVID-19, we initially wondered how we could maintain our coaching momentum. 

“As a Commission, we quickly settled on using virtual and cloud technologies to create training videos and online seminars that could help us reach as many referees around the world as possible.

“Initially, it seemed probable we’d need to cancel our training calendar for 2020, but I’ve happily been proven wrong thanks to our rapid pivot into virtual training.”

Main benefits of virtual training

A wider global reach and the ability to maintain refereeing enthusiasm have been the significant benefits of taking training online, noted Ian. “Our virtual technology formats have enabled us to work with more emerging Touch nations which previously had no referees.

“For established nations, virtual training is providing more game awareness for referees and helping our on-field officials align their expertise with what the players are trying to achieve.”

He continued, “Virtual training courses will remain part of our coaching toolkit post-COVID as more referees are now aware of what is available to them and how easy it is to get answers, assistance and direction.”

There are also significant cost savings for FIT. “For a recent virtual course for Fijian referees we attracted 75 attendees,” said Bill Ker, Secretary General of FIT. “This training could not have been held pre-COVID because the expense of international flights for the course presenters, as well as domestic travel within Fiji and accommodation would have been prohibitive for our federation. 

“But by providing this course online, we now have 75 officials in Fiji who are now well-prepared for their on-field duties, which is fantastic for Fijian development. 

“Ian and his team have done a magnificent job shifting their training online, which will have long term benefits for the expansion of our game internationally.”

To find out more about FIT’s virtual training for referees, contact the Referees Commission at [email protected].