The Nigeria Squash Federation (NSF) and the WSO have been working together to educate referees and start them on their World Squash Officiating pathway.
Over the past 12 months, the NSF have partnered with the WSO to deliver a programme for the development of 24 referees.
The successful partnership between the two bodies is a major step for the growth of the sport in Nigeria and is hoped to have opened a doorway for their referees to officiate on the biggest stage.
Nigeria Squash Federation President Boye Oyerinde said: “Our goal is to have our referees gain global recognition through officiating at Challenger Tour events as well as Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and World Tour Finals around the world.
“To do this, we are working with the WSO on a roadmap to build on the training we have had for the referees.
“This will contribute greatly to the development of squash in Nigeria as well as their personal growth and development as this is their means of livelihood.
“We are also encouraging our players to enrol in the online training program and new referees to do the same.
“We plan to also have another training program later this year or early 2024.”
The WSO programme was split into two main phases: three online-based sessions and a two-day in-person workshop.
WSO tutor Marko Podgorsek, who is also a European Squash Federation (ESF) Referee Tutor and Assessor, and a member of the ESF Referee Committee, led the online sessions for the 24 members of the programme.
Each referee was made to watch matches, write down their decisions and comments, and discuss the decisions that resulted in the most variation of answers.
Meanwhile, WSO tutor and former Commonwealth Games referee Steve Eccles led the in-person workshops, appraising the referees and offering daily feedback on a number of different tasks.
During the workshop, the referees worked through WSO-prepared content.
“The WSO is the body responsible for training officials for the game of squash,” Oyerinde said. “So for us to get our officials properly trained in line with WSF and PSA standards, it was essential to reach out to the coordinating body.
“We reached out to the WSO to get our officials trained properly, using the right training program, guidelines and standards.”
After the conclusion of the programme, the WSO sent a report to the Nigerian Squash Federation, which mapped out the continued development of their referees in conjunction with the NSF.
Additionally, the WSO offered development roadmaps to each individual referee and are now openly looking to provide the leading NSF referee with opportunities to officiate in the future.
Despite the NSF not usually having the infrastructure for such a programme, Oyerinde explained how they raised the necessary funds.
He said: “The major costs for having an assessor in Nigeria to conduct the training is the return ticket, fees and accommodation.
“We were able to align the program with a tournament, which requires a tournament referee from outside Nigeria.
“The major costs came from the tournament, while the fees paid by the participants covered the rest. We needed a little additional funding, which was raised from stakeholders.”