President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Dr Danny Jordaan, has congratulated former World Cup referee, Jerome Damon, after the latter was appointed FIFA's Referee Development Officer for Africa, in line with the FIFA Forward Programme.
Dr Jordaan says this comes as no surprise as Damon is one of the best ever produced in this country.
"We have been very fortunate in this country to have produced some of the best match officials the sport has ever seen. For years his performance on the field was impressive and he continues to display the same acumen as an instructor. This is a big role and a huge responsility to be given to someone, and I can safely say the match officials on this continent are in good hands," said Dr Jordaan.
"We are proud of his appointment and can only say that despite the criticism that match officials receive week in and week out, South Africa continues to produce some of the best middlemen and we should applaud them for that. We have seen that South African referees are the most sought after at CAF and FIFA tournaments, which is a clear indication that we are doing something right as country. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jerome and wish him well on his new journey."
Damon was appointed alongside another official from Rwanda and both will cover the continent, which will require a lot of travelling - and this has led him to quitting his job of 17 years as a school teacher in Cape Town.
"I have taken on a full-time job, and after many years in the education field it has prepared me for this. I have had to make a very very difficult decision because it was not easy at all to leave my school," said Damon.
"That is just the way life is in football, you don't stay in a role forever - for now it will be refereeing development, for 20 odd years it was in education at Bridgetown High. So I am going to miss that aspect, miss that daily connection with the kids, friends in the education sector but I also know I will still be in communication with them."
His role is to lend support to the Member Associations in terms of Refereeing Development, structuring the departments, ensuring all criteria are met in terms of what FIFA requires and how they desire to structure their refereeing departments.
And they will be working closely with CAF. The appointment is with immediate effect.
"So effectively the head of CAF Refereeing Department liaise with the head of the FIFA Refereeing department to say this is how we want to structure refereeing in Africa and part of our roles is to ensure that we roll that out and those targets are met but also to lend support as far as FIFA resources are concerned - and that is part of the Forward Programme entails," said an elated Damon.
The Capetonian is the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) training instructor for Africa - which will be used at the upcoming 2019 AFCON, but only from the round of 16.
He will also continue being a CAF Refeering Instructor - just recently he held a workshop with 140 match officials in Johannesburg.
"This workshop was absolutely crucial. We cannot undermine the value of education because the laws of football have changed and match officials need to be up skilled. I would like to see this happening with the media, with the teams with all the major role players and stakeholders in football because if we all get to move together and be on the same page, then our football will get to grow at a more rapid rate than what it is now."
Damon officiated at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has twice been named South African referee of the year.
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