Inspired by NextPlay Cup, teen referee harbours World Cup dream
Charlie Smith High School student Tuishane Edwards (picture) officiates in the final of the Scotiabank Concacaf NextPlay Cup between Holy Family Primary School and Emmanuel Christian Academy at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – For trainee referee Tuishane Edwards, the experience of officiating in the Jamaican leg of the Scotiabank Concacaf NextPlay Cup was an eye-opener and a trigger for big dreams.

The 17-year-old student of the Charlie Smith High School - located in the Arnett Gardens community as the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex where Saturday’s final day of activities were held – has been bitten by the refereeing bug and has set his sights on great things down the road.

 “I am getting to love this referee thing, and I am going to keep working hard, and I would want to grow to the point that one day I would want to referee at the World Cup, but right now I am going to continue to receive the training locally, and probably before long, I could be officiating in local competitions like school boy leagues and the Premier League,” Edwards told

“Yes, I would one day like to be a professional referee because this is teaching me more about the laws of the game and giving me a great experience… also, it is good to have a plan B in case things don’t work out for me as a player.” 

The Charlie Smith High School goal-keeper, who hails from the Arnett Gardens area, a tough inner-city enclave in the capital Kingston, credited his school principal and other referees for his introduction to refereeing and their guidance to this point.

“I got into refereeing through my school Principal (Anthony Garwood, former Fifa assistant referee), who told me about the NextPlay Cup and that I could train to be  a referee, and I am happy that I did it because I got a lot of exposure by being a part of it,” Edwards shared.

“I must also thank senior referees Mr. Wilverglen Lamey and Mr. Courtney Campbell who inspire me,” he said.

Edwards, who took charge of the championship match of the NextPlay Cup which was won by Holy Family Primary School, believes his performance through the tournament and the final in particular was “very good”.

“I think I did well refereeing the final today (Saturday), and my job was made easier because I had the senior referees guiding me through,” he noted.

Holy Family Primary won after defeating Emmanuel Christian Academy 2-1 in Saturday’s final, in a tournament where they finished with a 100 percent win record.

“I think the NextPlay Cup is one of the best things I have seen when it comes to children playing football as someone who has been following football from I was very young, and I am happy that Holy Family Primary won it and will be heading to the Concacaf Gold Cup final. 

“My only regret is that the referees who officiated in it will not have the opportunity to travel to the U.S.A. to watch the Gold Cup as well,” Edwards ended.

All nine trainee referees, who officiated in the four weekends of matches were drawn from the Charlie Smith High School, through a partnership between the school and the Concacaf Caribbean Development Office based in Kingston.