Football Australia hosts OFC Video Assistant Referee Workshop

Football Australia recently hosted a four-day video assistant referee (VAR) workshop for fourteen Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) officials to support preparations for implementation of the system in their respective professional competitions.

The workshop, designed to demonstrate how the VAR system works, was conducted by Football Australia Elite Coaches Eddie Lennie and Renae Coghill, along with GM – Elite Refereeing, Mathew Cheeseman at Football Australia’s VAR Centre in Sydney from 22 – 25 November.

Football Australia Head of Referees, Nathan Magill said: “Our ongoing collaboration with the OFC demonstrates Football Australia’s commitment to delivering our vision of being a global leader in referee development. Football Australia has been a leader in VAR over a number of years, so to be able to help other nations develop is part of our responsibility to international football. I would like to thank Kevin Stoltenkamp for his ongoing support through providing additional opportunities for Australian match officials in the OFC,” Magill concluded.

Football Australia hosts OFC Video Assistant Referee Workshop

The OFC officials that attended the course were: Veer Singh (FIJ), Avinesh Narayan (FIJ), Mederic Lacour (NC), Isaac Trevis (NZ), Anna-Marie Keighley (NZ), Noah Kusunan (PNG), Campbell Kirk Kawana Waugh (NZ), Stephanie Minan (PNG), David Yareboinen (PNG), Maria Salamasina (SAM), Ben Aukwai (SOL), Natalia Lumukana (SOL), Shama Mae (SOL) and Folio Moeaki (TGA).

OFC Head of Refereeing, Kevin Stoltenkamp said: “Our commitment to providing our officials with every opportunity to perform on the world stage is highlighted by working in collaboration with Football Australia on the VAR accreditation of our officials. This is a step in the right direction, with the announcement that an OFC Professional League is set for launch in 2025. OFC match Officials have always been professional in an amateur football environment in our region, which is required for them to get appointed to international competitions,” Stoltenkamp concluded.

Football Australia hosts OFC Video Assistant Referee Workshop

For New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley, the opportunity was one that brought much value.

“There were three stations in operation all day going through clip after clip from previous matches. With seven referees and seven assistant referees [in attendance] you were in the hot seat pretty frequently. We then focused on offside and using crosshairs technology, then participated in full match simulations,” Keighley explained.

“Being able to have practical training in the Football Australia VAR Centre, with three Football Australia instructors, was invaluable. It was a great first step for OFC video match officials, which was made possible by the relationship between Kevin Stoltenkamp and the Football Australia Refereeing Department. This relationship has led to an opportunity that the match officials are all grateful for,” Keighley concluded.

In 2017, the A-League became the first topflight professional club competition to use a VAR system. One year later, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) wrote VAR into the Laws of the Game on a permanent basis, and it has been adopted into all major competitions, most notably at the last two FIFA World Cups.

Currently OFC is the only Confederation that does not use VAR for international competitions.