“Train up a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” – Proverbs 22:6  

It’s conceivable that in the usual heat of criticising our football authorities over their actions or inactions, sight is lost or indeed, little attention is paid to the notably good projects they undertake – projects that have direct bearing on the growth of the game. 

One of those growth projects is the Catch Them Young Refereeing policy by the Kurt administration. It’s a positive project not because it’s been well explained in theory. It’s being implemented too, in a steady, pragmatic manner. It’s one for the future. 

It’s one for the future of refereeing at different levels of Ghana football. If these teen referees blossom, it’s to the benefit of Ghana football. The Bible says “train up a child the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). 

Observing how the programme has run over a year now, it’s evident that, the Kurt Okraku administration has assented to and taken the abiding Biblical instruction to football. I was moved to my writing desk when I saw photos of teenage girl referees readying to officiate a local juvenile game.  

The smile on their faces was telling. They’ve been taking their classroom lessons. It was now time to practicalise what they’ve learnt. That, one of the girls’ mum was available to watch her daughter officiate a game was a ringing endorsement of the usefulness of the project. The GFA should continue managing the policy and its outcomes carefully while strongly trumpeting its success. 

Over 1,200 U-17 boys and girls are being trained nationwide with a proportionate regional distribution, indicating that, the programme isn’t situated only in Accra. The teen referees have handled matches in the KGL U-17 inter-club competition, Division One Super League, Regional Division Two League and Colts’ league games.

We've been divided on the relevance of the corruption exposé #12 by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas in 2018. What’s not up for contention however is the damage #12 inflicted on our referees. Dozens of our so-called elite referees were banned for receiving bribes to rob and cheat clubs. 

Public confidence in referees sunk, hitting an all-time low. In the normalisation period, when integrity workshops were organised for new referees, they were still viewed with deep suspicion. The mistrust was huge. It’s not gotten any better since then. 

Refereeing standards in our leagues is bad. It's not good to cast a dark picture without looking at where light may be emanating from. Many of us wish that refereeing gets better and with this policy, may our wishes not be in vain. May the Catch Them Young Refereeing policy rescue our football from the shackles of poor officiating.