The Liberia Football Association (LFA) has certificated 13 new match commissioners ahead of the 2019 national league, which kicks-off on 24 February.
It followed two weeks of call for applications and a thorough vetting exercise, which ended with training at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) from 18-19 February.
Former LFA President Izetta Wesley, who oversaw the process, thanked the successful beginners for their patience and eagerness to learn.
“This signals that you will be good match commissioners. You have learned the ethics, the discipline, the laws of the game and you did practical on the field.
“This training is called the beginner. We do refresher for the old match commissioners. And now you are going out to do implementation. This is where you will be judged,” said Cllr. Wesley.
Deputy Sports Minister Andy Quamie was one of three facilitators along with LFA club licensing manager and protocol officer Alex Nagbo, who is a former FIFA-badged referee.
Quamie, who is a FIFA and CAF match commissioner and inspector, had a critical piece of advice for the newly recruited.
“As match commissioners, you are barred from speaking about a particular match or any match you have participated in on the radio, television or social media or grant journalists interviews before, during or after the match.
“That is the law made by FIFA. You will be expelled as a match commissioner if you are caught. Some of us are politicians. You can talk about your politics but please leave your functions or duties as a match commissioner out of the discussion,” said Quamie.
LFA President Mustapha Raji commended the participants for honoring the call to be football ambassadors.
“At least some of you have benefited from the funding that is provided by FIFA. And no one paid a penny to pass through this training.
“It was all funded by the Football Association through the funding provided by FIFA and this is what we want to do. We want to empower. We want to develop.
“And we want to build the capacity of a lot of Liberians that are interested and have the passion for football, not only in the area of match commissioning but in refereeing, coaching and in football administration,” said Raji.
Notable participants were former USA FC board chairman Faustina Doe, female football pioneer Constant Maima Bowman-Prempeh and former Invincible Eleven executive Jeror Cole Bangalu.
“I know one day the LFA will graduate from this stage to a higher stage. So I just want to thank you all for the training that we have gone through.
“I know we will not let you down, with God being our helper, because we have always called on him to direct us and we will do what we have been trained to do and not stray from what we have learned,” said Bowman-Prempeh.
Attorney-at-law Bangalu, who is also LFA first instant board chairman for the club licensing program, admitted that the training broadened his horizon about football.
“A lot of us here have been in sports administration but the two-day details have really enlightened us even further. There are some things we just didn’t know.
“As match commissioners, we directly represent the LFA during games. So we will try hard not to sway from the confidence you have reposed in us.
“So that we can actually prove to be, if not the best, but among the best of those you have ever selected ever in the history of match commissioners in Liberia,” said Bangalu.
Meanwhile, a refresher for match commissioners took place at the ATS on 20 February.
Notable participants were LFA Vice President Sekou Konneh, Liberia National Old-timers Association Vice President Euphemia Wilson, former LFA secretary-generals Idrissa Kaba and Yanqueh Borsay; former executive committee members Ansu Dulleh and Matthew Smith; former treasurer Jallah Corvah and former stadium manager Kahn Kaba.
Idrissa Kaba, who was a FIFA-badged, served as referee from 1985 to 2003 and secretary-general from 2010 to 2011.
“Match commissioners are very important people in a football match. So holding a refresher is good because football has four pillars: administration, coaching, referee and medics,” said Kaba.
For Euphemia Wilson, who is also a coaching instructor, the refresher was a perfect opportunity to begin the league.
“The last time we appealed to the then president, Musa Bility, and he promised us but we say thanks to Mustapha Raji, who has kept us to his promise to do refresher before the start of every season,” she said.