The Iber Cup Costa Del Sol 2019 was played over five days in late June at three venues in Marbella and Estepona. A group of seven referees from Gibraltar joined officials from around the World to officiate in a well-supported youth tournament. The group consisted of Colin Griffiths, Raymond Gomez, Jose Antonio Delgado, Juan Miguel Vega, Agus Fornieles, Ramzi Lhamdaoui and Ahmed El Hana.
Clubs travelled from America, Thailand and across Europe to compete over different age groups. The tournament began a day early as all forty referees met up for a welcome briefing allowing everyone to acclimatise, introduce themselves and put names to faces. Tuesday started bright and early for the majority, especially Juan Vega who had to be awake at 0600 in order to make a 0645 referee meeting.
This would be a running trend with the majority of GFA representatives being used every morning with most having a minimum of a game a day but never more than three. The challenges lay in the long days and with four locations including the hotel and various kick off times all referees had to manage themselves effectively. Sometimes turnaround times involved as little as 10-15 minutes before boarding another coach to another game. Matches were played at a high tempo in temperatures that most would be keen to avoid.
All players were keen to win but didn't over step the mark, however, Agus Fornieles must have the tournament record with five red cards over two games. Language barriers and attitudes were mixed together and overcome through smiles, interaction and problem solving. Raymond Gomez made friends wherever he refereed, be it primary school players or an Ex-Brazil and Manchester United superstar Kleberson who was one of the Philadelphia Union coaches.
Of the forty strong referee group, it was great to see everyone mixing together at games and meal times and in the evenings. The camaraderie was very high as we pushed each other to do better but always offered support and reflection. Ramzi received plaudits for his refereeing techniques and friendly demeanour away from the pitch. The performances of all from the GFA were held in high regard and this was shown for the Semi-finals and Finals when all received an appointment. The two stadiums were very good facilities and the hotel catered for us very well. Overall, it was a very rewarding and challenging experience. All involved feel that they learned