Local referees are beginning to see the benefits of development programs put in place by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) in the last four years.
According to Sylvester Kirwa, the referees manager at the federation, they have seen an increased number of referees joining the elite status.
“When I was employed by the federation, we decided to focus on certain key areas: building capacity, recruitment, development and having more women.”
He said the federation got two critical Fifa funded courses and he says this changed the fate of local referees.
“The result is that we sent women referees to the Africa Women Nations Cup (AWCON) and the World Cup for the first time.
“Our two referees, Mary Ann and Caroline Wanjala have also joined the Elite ‘A’ category. Previously, referees used to pay money to attend courses but we abolished these allowing more of them to be trained,” he said.
Kirwa said the number of men elite referees has also gone up to three with Peter Waweru, Gilbert Cheruiyot and Davies Omweno joining the club.
“Locally, we have seen very young referees coming up and now majority of those handling the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) are between 24-33 years. This means that they have another 15 years at the top.”
Richard Obare a member of the referee’s committee said more than 2000 referees have been trained in the last four years.
“The courses have been quite helpful and our referees have benefitted a lot. Even referees at the grassroots level have benefitted from the new changes,” he said.
Margrate Omondi a FIFA instructor noted that she is happy that a number of women referees are now officiating in the KPL.
“Before that, we had just a few women at the top. But now there is no difference as more and more women are handling the KPL. Furthermore, men and women are getting an equal number of matches.”