Kirwa attributes the milestone to a major policy adopted by the federation, which encourages more interested persons to come on board.”
Kenyan Premier League matches are being handled by young referees aged between 24 and 33 years who have all received professional training through programs facilitated by the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).
Sylvester Kirwa, the referee’s manager at the federation, says the country has witnessed a surge in the number of well-trained match officials after the Mwendwa-led administration rolled out two critical Fifa funded courses which changed the fate of local referees.
“Locally, we have seen very young referees coming up and now the majority of those handling the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) is between 24-33 years. This means that they have another 15 years at the top.”
Kirwa attributes the milestone to a major policy adopted by the federation, which encourages more interested persons to come on board.
“When I was employed by the federation, we decided to focus on certain key areas: building capacity, recruitment, development and having more women.”
Women Referees Join The Fray
The results have been encouraging, including Kenyan women referees securing slots to officiate in 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.
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.”
Number Of Elite Referees Peaks
Kirwa said the number of men elite referees has also blossomed, with Peter Waweru, Gilbert Cheruiyot and Davies Omweno joining the club.
His sentiments were shared by Richard Obare, a member of the referee’s committee who said that 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.