It’s been a whirlwind introduction to OFC for the new head of the Referees Department Kevin Stoltenkamp.
Since starting a week ago, he’s already planning courses across the region and making preparations for next month’s OFC U-20 Championship in Vanuatu.
“We will meet with the referees in Vanuatu three days before the tournament to go through fitness, the Laws of the Game, and different scenarios that they could experience in a game to prepare them for the competition before we split up between the two locations,” Stoltenkamp said.
OFC Competitions Director Chris Kemp welcomes the appointment of Stoltenkamp, believing it will benefit Oceania competitions.
“The more FIFA accredited referees we develop in Oceania, the better it is for our players and competitions,” Kemp said.
“Development of football across the board is important so as the players improve, we need match officials to improve alongside them.
“Having a dedicated Referees Department means the progression of match officials in our region can continue at the same high pace and I welcome seeing that transpire on the field.”
Following the U-20 Championship, Stoltenkamp has been involved in scheduling referee courses in Tonga, New Zealand, Samoa, and the Cook Islands with a heavy focus on building the referees’ confidence for international matches and FIFA World Cups.
“We want them to go to tournaments and make themselves proud as well as their countries but more importantly we want to try and build their confidence,” he said.
“I think they often feel inferior to the European countries with Oceania being a smaller area. We just hope to give them all the tools and skills necessary to go out there and perform at the highest level they possibly can.
“The biggest problem we have is countries that don’t have a referee development officer. There’s nobody behind the referees to make sure they’re meeting their deadlines and they’re doing their trainings.
“Hopefully implementing something at grassroots level will help people understand that if you want to achieve something you must go out and get it. We’re going to give them the tools to achieve what they want.”
Stoltenkamp plans to take the experience gained from his previous role as Referee Development Officer at Northern Football Federation in Auckland, New Zealand, to build stronger refereeing programmes in the Oceania Region.
“My role at Northern Football was a good opportunity because the programmes vary from grassroots right through to high performance. You need to develop your grassroots referees and also make sure you have programmes to test your high performance referees,” he said.
“Taking that experience and trying to implement that in this region is similar because of the different levels of development in each country.”
Stoltenkamp played and coached for many years before taking up refereeing. Although he didn’t pursue a career as a FIFA match official, he has been involved in the New Zealand National League for many years. Referee development is a rewarding way for Stoltenkamp to pass on his years of experience.
“I just love what I’m doing. It a good opportunity to help develop other people and pass on your knowledge.”
Story by OFC Media.