The Georgian Football Federation's referee academy has produced its first raft of successful young graduates.
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The first match officials recently completed the first course run by the Georgian Football Federation's referee academy. The course, which began in December 2017, was financed by the Georgian football development fund, making it free for all participants. Hundreds applied to take part, with 30 applicants initially being chosen and more being added to that list later on. The successful applicants included seven female referees.
The opening of the academy was attended by UEFA's Jaap Uilenberg and Jørn West Larsen. The latter had acted as an adviser to Georgian referees at UEFA, and it was under his guidance that Georgia joined the UEFA Convention on Referee Education and Organisation.
The graduation ceremony for the first batch of successful young referees took place on 28 May. The president of the Georgian Football Federation (GFF), Levan Kobiashvili, congratulated the graduates and thanked them for their participation, telling them that graduating from the academy would be a major milestone in their quest to forge a career in refereeing.
"Congratulations on successfully completing the course. You are set to become very important figures in Georgian football. I am delighted to see that you did not shy away from the challenges presented by the extensive application process, the busy schedule and the gruelling physical activities. You thoroughly deserve these diplomas. I am especially happy for our female graduates. You are part of a new generation that will help combat existing social stereotypes about refereeing. I am sure that, in the future, more people in this country will want to get involved in football through refereeing," he said.
The director of the Georgian football development fund, Zaza Dolidze, talked about the importance of education, emphasising the government's eagerness to prioritise projects such as the referee academy. He also indicated that the fund would continue to finance refereeing courses in the future.
At the end of the graduation ceremony, the young referees received their diplomas and symbolic badges from Levan Kobiashvili and the federation's general secretary, David Mujiri.
This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 179