FIFA fitness instructor Kader Touati now has the paperwork to prove he knows what he is talking about. The Frenchman has completed a masters degree in fitness training, specialising in football, from the University of Lyon.
Touati, who works in the Oceania region as part of the FIFA-funded Refereeing Assistance Programme (RAP), is responsible for the fitness levels of the match officials within the OFC member associations and is part of an elite group to have earned the prestigious degree.
"It has been a goal of mine for a long time and not many other instructors have this degree," he says. "Lots of people apply for it every year. I am grateful to OFC for giving me this opportunity and am particularly thankful for the support of President Reynald Temarii."
The masters degree took one year to complete and Touati was financially assisted by OFC in his study.
He says going back to university was a strange feeling.
"It was very difficult for me to study again, 15 years after going to school. But fitness training is my job and it was easy for me to remember."
The 38-year-old was born in France and did all his schooling there before moving to Tahiti nine years ago.
Prior to joining FIFA and OFC, he did not have much of a background in football and most of his experience was gained in athletics.
"My job before this was in athletics and I have tried to put what I learned from that into football. You need to be able to adapt and use what you know in each sport. My attitude is that my job today is football, but maybe tomorrow it is rugby and the day after is tennis or athletics."
Touati is currently in American Samoa with Referee Development Officer Massimo Raveino and instructor Neil Poloso. They have just put the local officials through their paces with a FIFA-run referees course and will now move onto Samoa and the Cook Islands to conduct similar courses.
"We travel a lot to the different member associations," Touati says. "Our goal is to develop and grow the level of referees in the technical and fitness areas."
He and his colleagues are pleased with the progress made by Oceania referees in recent months. A pair of OFC trios attended the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and another trio was called into action at this month's inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
"The programme has been going for two years so it's still quite new," Touati says. "But it's good for the RAP team to have these trios because it can help the other countries and give them an example to work towards. Our mission is to help everybody.
"The most difficult thing for us now is to have the same number at the next World Cup in 2014 in Brazil. It's a good challenge for us, to maintain that or maybe increase it. If we have less then we have failed in our mission."