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Referees, assistant referees and physical instructors will take part in the one-week training organised by the football governing body

The 2012 FIFA MA Course for elite referees, referee assessors and physical fitness instructors was officially declared open in Abuja on Wednesday by NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari.

A total of 30 elite referees, among them Peter Edibe (the only Nigerian referee involved in the 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil qualifying race), 36 referees’ assessors and 20 physical fitness instructors are taking part in the one-week programme, whose maiden edition took place last year.

World football-governing body, Fifa has sent three leading referee instructors to oversee the programme. They are retired FIFA referees Sidi Bekaye Magassa (Mali), Felix Tangawarima (Zimbabwe) and Madembe Mbacke (Senegal).

In his address declaring open the course, at the Fifa Technical Centre, NFF President Aminu Maigari, who was represented by Member of NFF Executive Committee and Chairman of the NFF Referees Committee, Alhaji Muazu Suleyman, thanked Fifa for continuous support of all programmes geared towards the development of the Nigerian referee.

“Let me start by expressing heartfelt appreciation to the world football-governing body, Fifa for the keen interest it has continued to show, unpretentiously, about the development of Nigeria referees and their profiles internationally.

“It is this very special interest that informed the move by the world body to not only sanction the maiden edition of this Course, last year, but also to send three of its best hands in referees instruction business to fly down to Nigeria and impart uncommon knowledge to our leading men of the whistle. This same interest has manifested again with the Fifa’s decision to send to Nigeria again three of the very best in the business, who has seen it all in the vocation of refereeing and have so much to teach our own people.”

Maigari also applauded the efforts of the Nigeria Referees Association and the NFF Referees Committee, pledging that the NFF will continue to support its activities.

“Let me also give assurance that the Nigeria Football Federation will continue to support maximally all programmes, efforts and moves to improve the Nigerian referee, based on our belief that the Nigerian referee is indeed capable of doing much better and having a better profile than he/she currently does in world football.”

Supporting Messrs Magassa, Tangawarima and Mbacke are Nigeria’s respected retired FIFA referees Linus Mba, Emmanuel Dada Obafemi and Edikin Imiere.