Cayman Islands Referee Association (CIRA) Head Official Livingston Bailey emphasizes one word when describing officiating football in the Cayman Islands.
“Respect,” said Bailey. “Respect for the game. Respect for the match officials. Respect for all persons.”
As FIFA Instructor and longtime referee Esfandiar ‘Esse’ Baharmast explains, the training CIRA officials received at the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) Field of Excellence in Prospect earlier this month, will pay off in crucial moments of local football games.
“The higher the level of play you go, the decision making becomes faster,” said Baharmast. “Referees make so many decisions throughout a game, we want it to become automatic and instinctive, rather than not knowing what to do.”
Baharmast said FIFA’s Referees Assistance Programme emphasized practical curriculum both on and off the field, covering the laws of the game, positioning, challenges, tackles.
“In the classroom, we did all different interpretations of the law of the game. We show videos, and they take tests, like a simulator,” said Baharmast. “Then, we came on the field, we created situations where they had to make situations, just like players getting ready for matches.”
For Bailey, the training was important to both themselves, and the football community. They want to make one thing certain: CIRA is committed to improving their performance.
“It’s always about striving for excellence,” said Bailey. “Our referees have to rise with our standards of the game. As the game rises, we have to lift our standard to make sure that our interpretation and application of the law fits in with the modern game.”
Over the years, the relationship between CIRA officials and CIFA players and coaches has been contentious, to say the least. As early as April 2017, CIRA officials striked after dealing with increased abuse on the field of play. Bailey says that can be eliminated if everyone commits to upping their football knowledge.
“Our referees take this seriously, and hope to improve in our local games,” said Bailey. “It’s about referees, coaches, players understanding the laws of the game. Everyone has a different interpretation of the laws of the game. It’s about understanding the changes and building relationships.”
CIFA officials have done their part. Let’s see if both players and coaches can do theirs, for the sake of football in the Cayman Islands.