The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has started online tutorial classes for referees across the country to keep them 'on their toes' during the lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 60 referees from categories 3 and 4 have been divided into two batches of 30 participants each and are undergoing online classes for over two hours thrice a day.
While Suresh Srinivasan and Bhaskar are coaching Batch A, Antony D'Costa and Rizwan ul Haq are the instructors for Batch B.
All of them are ex-FIFA referees. In addition, 50 observers and instructors are also part of the tutorial classes as invitees.
AIFF Director of Referees Ravishankar stated: "As outdoor activities have been shut for coronavirus pandemic we had to come up with some plan for the referees. The courses are part of the ongoing process to improve them, and there cannot be any stop to further development."
"Given the current circumstances, we challenged ourselves and felt going digital was the best, and the sole viable option.
"We felt it was the best way to engage time, make use of the lock down, and sustain our efforts for holistic development," Ravishankar, himself a former FIFA referee, added.
The pandemic, which has indefinitely stalled all sporting activities, including postponing the Tokyo Olympics, has so far claimed over 88000 lives while infecting more than 14 lakh people.
"Initially, we had one orientation session for the referees to brief the curriculum and the protocol. The classes are being conducted in English primarily with an option to answer and clarify in Hindi too," Ravishankar said.
Meanwhile, referees from categories 1 and 2 including the FIFA panelled ones have been asked to attend a trivia session on alternative days to enhance their knowledge on recent amendments in the laws of the game.
"200-odd category 1/2 referees have been instructed to take part in the trivia sessions on every alternative day. While the session will help them get updated about the recent amendments by FIFA, the MCQ test will maintain a healthy competition amongst them," Ravishankar informed.
Besides the online course, AIFF has also shared indoor training regime with the referees which will help them maintain their fitness during the lockdown period.
"It is utmost necessary to stay active and cover the basics during these difficult days. Indoor fitness regime has also been shared with the referees so they stay in shape once the season kicks off again."
A few state associations have also followed in AIFF's footsteps and started such online courses for the state-based referees.
Gujarat, Chhatisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra have already begun the process, while a few others will follow suit shortly.