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Referees fitness test hangs in balance

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Local referees will have to wait for Fifa determination whether the results for the fitness test they undertook this year will still be relevant when the football season starts, National Referees Instructor has said.

Referees, in February this year undertook the fitness test in readiness for the TNM super leagues season which was expected to kick off in March, however, the season kick off was delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic which halted sporting events including football across the world.

This then means that referees will have a long layoff which might affect their fitness, National Referees Instructor, Moffat Champiti, said Fifa and Caf will guide whether it will be necessary to hold another physical test or the results for the February test will still stand.

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“It is tricky because the referees had just passed a physical test when the start of the season was suspended. As it is we don’t know whether we will use the same results or hold another fitness test. So Fifa and Caf will advise us on what to do when the situation stabilizes,” he said.

But Champiti said all referees were following individual home training to keep fit in readiness of the season.

“We have ways of following up their home training including submission of workout videos,” he said.

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One of the local football analysts, George Chiusiwa, said the referees can avoid another test if they were being monitored during home training.

“Having done the fitness test already I do not think it is important for referees to go for another fitness test when the football activities resume if these referees are being monitored now.

“What is needed is for football authorities such as the National Referees Association (NRA) and the responsible sub-committee at the Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to rigorously and continuously monitor the individual performances of referees during their own scheduled physical exercises,” he said.

Chiusiwa said the suspension of football activities may have rendered most referees inactive and this may negatively affect their performance when the season kicks off “if it’s being difficult to monitor the individual programmes of referees during the suspended time, NRA and the Fam should arrange for a refresher fitness test to all referees before the season kicks off.

“Thus football activities should only resume when such a refresher fitness test is conducted. Through this we will be assured of quality refereeing in the football season ahead,” he said.

Former Fam Acting General Secretary, George Kaudza- Masina, said another test was necessary.

“The fitness test which was previously done was in anticipation that the league was to kickoff. Since the suspension of kickoff of the season, the referees have not been active and as such their fitness levels might be compromised.

“As such there is a need for referees to go for another fitness test for the good of the game and for their own health and safety,” he said.

Masina, however, doubted if the referees can be monitored effectively doing home workout.

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