Norway Cup Fosters Referee Exchanges

By Krister Halvorsen

Norway Cup, the world’s largest youth football tournament, has in recent years seen the introduction of Norwegian Refereeing Development Groups attending as part of the NORCORE (Norwegian Centre of Refereeing Excellence) Programme established by the Norwegian Football Association in partnership with ex-Premier League Referee and UEFA Referee Committee Member David Elleray. Under this programme, officials are assigned into groups of three to officiate games during the week of Norway Cup.

This year – we saw a team of officials from the Bedfordshire FA – who came over under a similar setup. The team of officials: Dean Carney, Chris Howes and Tom Burns were handed the honour of officiating the Class R Final for Under 16 Girls between Langfjorden FK (Nordmøre & Romsdalen Fotballkrets) and Blindheim IL (Sunnmøre Fotballkrets) sat down with Bedfordshire FA Referee Development Group Coach James Campbell and Svein Dahle – who is a member of the Oslo Fotballkrets Female Referee Academy and a key member of the Oslo Fotballkrets Referee Exchange Programme. (NC): “So Svein – we saw you out on the fields yesterday looking at the Bedfordshire guys – how did you think they did”

Svein Dahle (SD): “I think they did quite well. The very good thing is they work together as a team and it showed. And that is what I think the British officials are very good at – coming to and leaving the game as a team and conducting the match as a team. Not team spirit – but team conduct, looking sharp. Having said that – sometimes during the match – I missed that sharpness from all three of them. So they have, as I see it, a great potential, but have to work a bit on looking sharp during the game”.

James Campbell (JC): “I think that’s very fair to say, actually in England we don’t get the opportunity at their age and level to work together very often. And actually – that’s why Norway Cup really presents to us a great opportunity to put together teams of officials – to get them to work and learn together, and develop as officials. And last night with Svein being in attendance, really just gave us a superb opportunity, albeit some miles from home, for them to be learning together to do that”.

NC: “You’ve formed a very good friendship over the years you’ve been coming here”.

JC: “Yeah, probably over 10 years now!”

SD: “Yes – Some connection on some level. I think the connection is about development, not about achieving something or benchmarking. It’s about the process of development. We have met on other terms more personally as friends, but considering refereeing – it’s about development, development, development”.

JC: “That’s the common goal we share. We just want the very best for young referees, we want them to share the passion that we have developed over the years, and why we love football, particularly in refereeing. And bouncing ideas off each other – even outside Norway Cup. Hopefully we could do something more formally between the Oslo Fotballkrets and the Bedfordshire FA in the future”.

NC: “You want to ultimately exchange groups of officials – like Oslo do with the Danes and Swedes”.

SD: “Why not! Why not! Because we do a lot of the group thing here. We go to tournaments abroad in Denmark and Sweden. But we also use tournaments in Oslo several times a year. And this has
now become, not a tradition, but we have done it well. The clubs arranging tournaments – they now contact us for referees. It is about bringing a group of referees together and developing them over the tournament. We use that opportunity particularly for younger referees who have never worked in a team of three. These tournaments are their first matches as part of a team of three. So the young officials who want to do this, and be serious about it, will get experience of such teams right from the start to develop them. So using exchanges with Denmark, Sweden and within other Counties in Norway is a good way to develop”.

JC: “We’ve done quite a few exchanges on a small scale domestically with other counties in England. But we have never had that opportunity to exchange internationally. To me it’s a very simple concept, to develop. I’ve been to Norway Cup for 13 years now and have built up great relations in Norway and a great love for the City of Oslo and the people of Norway. The fact that Norwegians are comfortable working in English is a great help with communication channels”.

“We all have common goals in refereeing – our common goal is to develop and get the very best out of our young referees. So why not take that opportunity to share ideas, develop ideas and share experiences together – hopefully it will be the start of incredibly strong and positive moving forward”.