Cornwall's young referee
...On course to bright future in football officialdom
MONTEGO BAY, St James - SOMETIMES there hardly seems enough hours in a day for Cornwall College schoolboy Ojay Duhaney, 18, to get everything he has planned completed.
And it's no surprise why. A full-time Level Two assistant referee who hopes to get on the Premier League panel soon, on his way up the ladder to becoming a FIFA referee, he juggles his time between schoolwork and a plethora of extra-curricular activities.
These include being the staff sergeant in the cadet force; his duties as one of the two deputy headboys at the 116-year-old institution as well as being a founding member of the Youth Organisation for Upliftment — a St James-based organisation geared at creating dynamic youth leadership to impact youth effectively.
Duhaney, who followed his best friend Aubrey Stewart into refereeing in 2009 when telecommunications company Digicel sponsored a drive to recruit schoolboys as officials, also played cricket for Cornwall College. However, he says his other responsibilities have cut into the time he has to play his favourite game.
Duhaney, who spoke to the Observer West in-between meetings last week, said he was away representing Cornwall College in a cricket game when the recruiters went to his school, and only heard about the visit after he returned later that day.
"When I came back from the game, I heard that the referee representatives had visited and that Aubrey had signed up so I decided to go along with him," he said.
H e said his youth has not hindered him from carrying out his duties as an assistant referee, as he is highly respected by most of the players, including his peers at the daCosta Cup level, those playing in the Under-21 League and at the Confederation Super League level.
"They try to stamp their authority, but I know the laws of the game and I stick to that," said the Wales Pond resident, noting that at the parish level, some players may try to question his experience and ability to make snap decisions, while running the lines.
"Physical fitness is not an issue for me as I make time to keep fit," he added.
However, he admitted that the first time he had to go through the FIFA fitness test to become a referee, he had "some difficulties".
"That was because I wasn't aware of what was required, but since then I have had no problems passing the tests," said the former deputy Junior Mayor, who said his ambition is to become a pilot.
Last November, Ojay was exposed to FIFA-level training, as he was invited to a week-long training seminar that was intended for FIFA officials, but was asked to fill one of the vacant spots made available by referees who were off the island at the time.
He told the Observer West that his earnings from refereeing are used to pay his bills.
"There are also financial benefits of being a referee. Right now, I do not have to go to my parents for anything; I take care of my bills and it is good to be able to afford what you want," he explained.
Ojay is the beneficiary of one of the many bursaries and scholarships given out by the Cornwall College Old Boys' Association annually.
The youngster is also highly thought of by the school's administration.
He has been described by Vice-principal Lorna Rampasard as a well-rounded, disciplined and multifaceted student, who has been able to rise above challenges.
She added that his former teachers have described him as having a pleasant disposition and one who enjoys a healthy relationship with his peers, while having respect for authority.
Last year he was chosen to represent the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF) in Grenada, where he instructed cadets in that country as they sought to revive their cadet force after a period of dormancy.