While the UEFA Regions' Cup offers the continent's best amateurs the opportunity to catch the eye on the European stage, the competition also provides match officials with what referee observer Uno Tutk hopes will be the first step towards a successful career.
Tutk began officiating in his native Estonia 17 years ago and, as his talent became evident, quickly graduated to an assistant referee in UEFA competition. With all the officials at the finals in their second year on the UEFA list, Tutk regards the tournament as an invaluable experience.
"It's a good opportunity for them to show they are ready for bigger matches," he told UEFA.com. "Hopefully in the near future we'll see some of them involved in games in the Europa League and Champions League."
Tutk has been impressed with how things have unfolded thus far for his latest crop of officials here in northern Portugal. "I've been to two matches and both sides were particularly happy with the referees: I hope this continues for the rest of the tournament," he added. "Of course, we have things we need to focus on but we discuss these after every match."
As a referee observer, Tutk's remit is to mentor the batch of 16 officials and revealed a key tool in achieving this is the use of video analysis. "We watch the matches on DVD and we speak about the main points and give notes to everybody about what they can expect from each team," said Tutk, who is involved in the running of the UEFA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE).
While his focus is on readying his crop for Sunday's deciding set of group matches, Tutk hopes Europe's premier amateur competition will merely be a stepping stone on to greater things for the class of 2011.
"We have six referees here and I would expect, perhaps, two of them to reach a high level. I see potential, " he said. "One of my referees back home officiated the U17 Championship final in Serbia last month and we are very proud of this, particularly coming from a small country."
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