Organizations across Ontario are investing in the development of their match officials.
For some that means including the match officials in their strategic plans, in others it means developing full scale development pathways for match officials to work towards.
The Match Official Club spotlight takes a look at the clubs and academies who are investing in the development of match officials and their reasons for doing it.
This week features a look at Burlington SC with Andy Murty, their Club Head Referee.
Being a match official isn't easy. There are so many things to think about before the game ever begins, let alone the hundreds of decisions that are made in each game.
Our aim is to educate all our officials in not just the laws of the game but also give them the on field advise and skills they require to survive. Anything we can do to help our new officials (and our more seasoned officials) improve, will result in a better game for all.
Some match officials have the same aspirations as players -- to be involved in games at the highest level possible. Just as a club we try to help players develop to reach their highest potential, we try to also help match officials reach their highest potential.
This enables our match officials to choose to be the best they can be at whatever level they feel is comfortable for them.
Soccer in Canada is experiencing wonderful growth. The development of the CPL (with Forge FC so close by) means that Canada Soccer needs officials at higher levels than they've been needed before.
For BSC we always support our officials that wish to advance if that is what they desire. We work closely with our District Referee Coordinator and recommend match officials that wish to advance.
As the level of play increases, we know the level of officiating also needs to increase. We saw this a couple of years ago when the officials in MLS went on strike. The replacement officials did their best, yet you could see that some of them weren't quite ready to make the jump to the professional game. A more developed official will help players showcase their talents.
Just as players have a portal to develop through Long Term Player Development, we at BSC believe that working alongside Ontario Soccer and their Long Term Match Official Development program, we can give our officials the necessary tools and contacts to become better themselves which will improve the game in all aspects.
Mentoring is key for the development of our officials. While studying the Laws of the Game and off-field education is important, all of that is only in preparation for action on game day.
If our new match officials and the ones progressing through the ranks can get advice and help from others within the club, this helps build confidence for the mentee and also allows hand picked mentors to develop their social skills. This also it helps the mentors understand the game and laws in a more in-depth way therefore enhancing the ability of both parties to succeed.
What some people might not realize is that officials don't get to practice their craft outside of games. We can't hold a practice to have a scrimmage, stop the play and work on set pieces as players can. All of our practice time is left to technique. Having mentors at the fields dramatically increases the ability of an official to learn and improve.
Our peer to peer mentoring program launched last year is already showing signs on and off the field through match official retention and attendance at pre-season sessions.
Ontario Soccer is definitely on the right track with Match Official development. We've seen it already with some of the officials who started out in the BSC. They've moved on to competitive games and are continuing to progress to higher levels of competition. Without the mentoring and promotion of officials that has happened so far, they wouldn't have progressed to the level they are at.
Communication with Ontario Soccer is good, and like any communication it could be better. At times it is hard to keep abreast of all the developments and opportunities in match official development. However, as the programs that are now starting become part of our regular routine, we're confident that communication will be even stronger than it is now.
For the BSC this communication has become vital and will continue to be so with the upcoming Club Minimum Standards requirements.
We always strive to implement any information we get from Ontario Soccer to all our match officials.
Over the last couple of years, we have had many new faces join our mentoring program as peer to peer mentors.
Last year this was a huge success and I hope this year will be even better with the introduction of a few more handpicked mentors.
Our officials have received recognition at district level and also through Ontario soccer by means of awards.
Verna Dalgleish, left, won the Mike Wyres Award, Andy Murty, won the Spirit of the Game and Keara Reilly, won the Tim Jones Award
Tag(s): Match Official News