Much attention of the Premier League and Indian Super League's (ISL) Football Development Week
in Mumbai this month was on youth development, but the men in the middle of the matches between Leicester City
and two Indian teams were also a crucial element of the joint event.
During the week the Premier League and the referees organisation, PGMOL
, were helping to develop the skills of the local match officials for the ISL
As well as workshops for match officials from the All-India Football Federation
(AIFF), PGMOL Senior Coach Paul Taylor watched the officials in action for their Football Development Week matches involving academy teams from Arsenal, Leicester, Mumbai City and Reliance Young Champs. He also gave them coaching.
This accompanied presentations Taylor had given earlier in the week to more than 60 regional officials, offering his expertise and insight on best practice.
This training is part of a longstanding relationship the Premier League and PGMOL have had with the AIFF and ISL for referee development. It has involved Taylor, as well as former Select Group referee Andy D'Urso and Richard Beeby, the head of National List Performance at PGMOL.
The ISL pre-season match officials workshop in September 2018 was facilitated and hosted by PGMOL, for example.
This work with match officials is not limited to India. The Premier League and PGMOL have also been co-operating with the Asian Football Confederation to help officials in Malaysia, China, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.
In addition, through Premier Skills
, the joint-programme between the Premier League and British Council, more than 20,000 coaches and referees in 29 countries have received training to develop the game. And some of the Indian referees trained by Premier Skills took part in the Football Development week.
Much like the Football Development Week as a whole, the learning experience was not wholly a one-way street.
"It is a privilege to work with different countries and cultures around the world and recognise that we face many similar challenges as match officials," Taylor said. "The collective knowledge, experience and learning will undoubtedly benefit everyone involved in these programmes."