The Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) says it will ensure Nigerian umpires are recognised by the world body especially in the officiating of international competitions.
BFN’s President, Francis Orbih, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday that the federation had started the move with the umpires’ course held at the National Stadium, Abuja.
Orbih said the course which held between July 2 and July 5 for 67 umpires was designed to expose them to the latest developments in the game.
He said the course was also organised to build the capacity of the match officials and prepare them for international assignments.
“I can tell you that for any championship if the standard of officiating is poor, it can mar the game. We feel that our umpires should be grounded in the rules and technicalities of the game.
“As we are today in Nigeria, we do not have one single referee in Africa; there is no Nigerian referee recognised by the world body.
“So, we think and feel strongly that with the level the game has reached in Nigeria, we should have our umpires participating in international competitions.
“It is not only our athletes that should be excelling at international events, our umpires should excel too; we want a situation where other African countries will come to Nigeria and employ coaches.
“We want to train our coaches and umpires to that level. We want to have as many referees as possible recognised and invited by the world body to officiate matches,” Orbih said.
According to Orbih, the umpires’ course will make more meaning to the federation when the match officials are invited to officiate at the highest level.
He said: “When you have people at that highest level it means that there is no aspect of the game that they do not know.
“But first and foremost, we want to make sure that we organise national championships for them before we begin to look at sending them on international training.
“It is the number of games an umpire officiated that add up to qualify him or her to be invited for African championships.
“When I addressed the umpires during this course, I told them that if they do not have competitions where they will go and practice what they have learnt, then, we have wasted our time.
“From the response we have received, we are going to have a second batch of this course after the Lagos International Badminton Classics this July; we have seen that we need to do more.”
Akinyemi Akindele, the Chairman, Caretaker Umpires Committee of BFN, said 67 participants from 27 states including Army, FRSC and Prisons attended the course.
“We had this course last in 2003 because the people there before did not deem it fit to conduct it. But when we came in last month, we pleaded with BFN to assist us financially to organise the course.
“Our aim is that since we are getting old, we are supposed to leave officiating for the younger ones and that is basically why we are organising it.
“The new BFN board is working hard to ensure that they take one umpire to every competition who will later impact the knowledge learnt on others,” Akindele said.
Akindele noted that Nigerian umpires would be the toast of other African countries if the federation continued with the current trend.
He said the umpires’ committee had pegged the age limit for entry point at between 20 and 40 years.