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The Professional Referees Organization has announced it will hold 18 training camps for its match officials throughout the coming season.
The camps are being held at the Cooper Hotel Conference Center & Spa and will last three days. Nine of the meetings will be attended by all referees, while the other nine will be for full-time officials only. There will also be two separate meetings attended by all the assistant referees and coaches.
PRO General Manager Peter Walton said: “Last season I only had the opportunity to see our referees on two occasions collectively but this year I’ve been able to factor in a number of training camps.
"With a collective audience, we will get a closer understanding of various plays and how we see those plays administered and officiated, with the ultimate aim of having a more consistent approach from game-to-game and during individual games.
"The officials will undoubtedly find reward in talking to one another in a closed environment and this will foster best practices. Collectively, we can only see us getting better as a unit, with the establishment of these new training camps."
As well as building up a mutual understanding, Walton believes the camps will aid the officials with their fitness levels. Time will be allowed for Matt Hawkey, PRO’s new sports scientist, to introduce collective and individual fitness regimes.
Alongside the fitness work, though, the meetings will give PRO the chance to update their referees with any new legislation.
"There will be an educational element to the camps, which will include video clips of games, new initiatives being shown throughout the world of soccer, including any initiatives coming from FIFA,” Walton added.
"They will be driven by Paul Rejer, the new Training and Development Manager, alongside Mike Kennedy, who is the Referees Manager.
"The Ken Cooper Sports Center holds all the technology and facilities required to look at our training and fitness levels, as well as the education the officials need.”