The OFC Referee Department has a new man in charge and his main goal is to see the number and quality of Oceania’s referees improve.
New OFC Referee Development Officer Mark Hester. Image: OFC via Phototek
FIFA referee instructor Mark Hester has been appointed OFC Referee Development Officer, a position he took over in late August.“Primarily my role is to help the Member Associations with the recruitment, development and retention of their referees,” he says of his new place in the folds of the Oceania football community.“The underlying principle is increasing the number of referees but also improving the quality of those referees as well.”Hester’s isn’t a new face in the region, having already been involved in several of the FIFA/Member Association courses held around the region, as a technical instructor and fitness instructor and says it has been the perfect training ground for his new position.“The feedback from those courses have been very positive and we’re looking to build on those good relationships,” he says.“To have an understanding of the referees, and not just the referees but also the development officers within each of the Member Associations, and the CEOs, is certainly going to help and if we work collaboratively we can support them in the recruitment, retention and development of their referees.”Hester believes having a dedicated referee development officer is of huge benefit to both the Confederation and each of its Member Associations.“It provides some stability for the region so that there can be a coordinated approach.“And for the national associations who need it there will be a resource to call upon to assist them in terms of putting a structure in place – or developing the structure they already have in place – to improve the quality of the referees and thereby provide the environment to improve the quality of football.”With so much potential for referees in the region, and a clear pathway from national leagues, to OFC tournaments to FIFA World Cup events, Hester says the opportunities are limitless for those willing to put in the time and effort.And he’s excited to be helping each of them along that journey.“It’s very exciting. There’s a lot of challenges, but also a lot of opportunities as well,” he says.“I look forward to working with the other staff at OFC, working with the technical department but also working with the Member Associations. Supporting them with developing their referees to ensure that the games are safe and that they are fair.“I think we’re entering an exciting phase for OFC, we’ve got a good platform to build on and through a process of evolution we can build a very strong referee department and referee culture throughout the region.”Mark Hester – Bio:Started refereeing as a 15-year-old in Australia. Worked his way up through the ranks from elite youth level to premier league within State federations in Australia.Moved to New Zealand in 2009 and continued to rise through the ranks and for the previous two seasons, 2013-14 excluded, was an ASB Premiership referee.Since 2010 was a referee development officer for Waikato/Bay of Plenty football.In 2013 and 2014 travelled to a number of OFC Member Associations as a FIFA Technical Instructor and/or FIFA Fitness Instructor.