COSAFA will be introducing the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system for the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship that will be played in Gauteng from 4-15 October 2023.
It is the first time the system has been used in a COSAFA tournament – albeit from the semi-finals onwards – with the plan to introduce it for all tournaments in the future.
COSAFA Referees Manager Felix Tangawarima is running a five-day all-female course for VAR training for referees and gives his views on why this is so important.
Tell us a little bit about the VAR course you are running?
Felix Tangawarima: COSAFA has had the will to have the VAR project at our tournaments and finally it has arrived. Within the referees in our region we have already registered approved officials for VAR. For a referee to be licenced, they must have had 25 hours of training. We will have done a five-day preparatory course, simply because a number are encountering VAR for the first time. The course includes theory, and of course practical. We have tasked the project leader from FIFA (Mike van der Roest) taking the referees through the theory part of it. We split the referees into two groups. The one group is on the field, the other is in the booth using the VAR. Though we will only use VAR ‘live’ for the semi-finals, third-place play-off and final, we will be doing it offline as a training exercise before that during the tournament. So the referees will use it as if it has an impact on the game, but obviously that is just for training purposes until we get to the semi-finals.
Why is this important for COSAFA and the match officials?
It is important we train our officials in the use of VAR, because CAF and FIFA are looking for licensed officials and we don’t want our referees from the region to be left out. We want them to be on the same footing as their peers across the continent. COSAFA will be one of the first regions to implement VAR for its tournaments, there are only some North African countries who have it already. So this is very exciting for us and the referees, I think they cannot wait to use it in matches. VAR is there and within the laws of the game and it is not going anywhere, so it is important for us as a region to embrace it. In the future, if you want to go to a World Cup, you will have to have practiced with VAR. FIFA will come any day and say every game will be VAR, so we urge our member associations to get ready for that.
Will VAR be a part of all COSAFA tournaments in the future?
As COSAFA, our objective as of now is for this tournament to have four games. But our overall objective is to have as many referees registered and ready as possible. In the future we want to have every game from the group stages to be with VAR at COSAFA tournaments. But the first step is to help the referees to get licenced, so we must intensify the teaching they need and train as many referees as we can. We are so grateful to COSAFA executive and secretariat for giving our referees this opportunity. The support we have had, which includes from FIFA and CAF, to help us has been fantastic. Everyone is rallying behind this project, which will change the face of COSAFA.