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Ontario Cup serves as development opportunity for Match Officials

By Staff, 09/21/21, 11:30AM EDT


A young trio of Match Officials and their mentor were standouts at this year's provincial championships

Play. Inspire. Unite. 

The Ontario Cup competition is an outstanding platform that offers opportunity for players and coaches to develop. It also serves as a valuable environment for Ontario Soccer’s upcoming and developing Match Officials.

At the start of the Ontario Cup semi final rounds, Ontario Soccer reached out to the District Referee Coordinators (DRC) for recommendations of developing Match Officials that would benefit from being assigned to the Ontario Cup Finals. 

“The OPDL, Ontario Cup and events such as the Ontario Summer Games are outstanding opportunities for the Long Term Match Official Development Team to scout, educate, mentor, develop and support the match officials that wish to develop and move forward in their career,” said Nicky Pearson, Senior Manager, Match Officials Development and Community Education.

Andy Murty, Hamilton Soccer DRC, who had taken part in the Long Term Official Development Talent Identification program, recommended three young officials who they felt were ready to take on this assignment.

Nicholas Elsasser, Dominique Kindaro from Hamilton Soccer and Angelina Baldino from Peel Halton Soccer Association were assigned to the U-16 Girls Ontario Cup Final along with Provincial Upgrading Match Official Mahboob Gulestani, also of Hamilton Soccer,

For two of the four young Match Officials, this was their first appointment at this level and a large component of developing in these environments is the support and mentorship of experienced Match Officials.  

Gulestani, a League1 Ontario Match Official, took the time to meet with these young officials the week before the event, talk them through the schedule and worked with them individually.

“The credit definitely goes to Ontario Soccer and all the instructors and mentors for teaching me all the correct protocols,” said Gulestani. “I was in touch with the crew since the September 1 and they all cooperated very well. … Our pregame had started couple of weeks ago and yesterday was the final touches. There was a lot of room for improvement, which we discussed and they will follow.”

Through the Long Term Match Officials Development Program, opportunities such as these for developing Match Officials are instrumental to retaining them and moving them through the Talented Pathway.

Tony Camacho, Ontario Cup Assignor, also hosted a pre and post-game session with the crew and spoke about future opportunities, how to keep fit and perform together as a team. 

“The type of leadership shown by Mahboob is much needed and appreciated.  This allows young Match Officials to grow and feel comfortable at these special events,” said Camacho. “I commend him for taking time during the week and making sure his Fourth Official was aware of all the protocols. This was Angelina’s first Fourth Official assignment and she looked like a seasoned veteran while she managed her duties.”  

Murty, who also took the time to accompany the officials to the event, expressed how excited they were following the Ontario Cup Final.

“The two young Assistant Referees really appreciated being part of such an organized event and were buzzing all the way home,” said Murty. “It was a genuinely uplifting experience and they now have the bug for more of the same. I will be sitting down with our head of Match officials and working out how we go about identifying the next batch of up and coming officials that we can bring through.”

Pearson is positive about the future for LTOD and officials in Ontario.

“In a typical non-covid year, we have a strong team of scouts and mentors that accompany us to events and we plan to invite many of those assigned to the 2021 Ontario Cup Finals to a group that we will prepare for the 2022 Ontario Summer Games.  We did this in 2018-2019 and now 80 percent of those officials are regularly assigned to League1 Ontario games and are being nominated to the Ontario Soccer and Canada Soccer NextGen program.  This is the success of LTOD.”

Learn more about Long Term Match Officials Development.