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What does the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant mean for match officials?

By Staff, 04/26/18, 3:15PM EDT


Nicky Pearson, Ontario Soccer's Manager of Match Official Development, answers questions about the LTOD grant announcement

Play. Inspire. Unite. 

Ontario Soccer has announced that it has received two Ontario Trillium Foundation Grants, which will assist in the development of its membership and participants on and off the field.

One of the Ontario Trillium Foundation grants will assist in the further development of match officials through their newly created Long Term Match Official Development (LTOD) plan.

Nicky Pearson, Manager of Match Official Development, answered a few questions about what this grant will mean for the match officials community. 

Tell us how you felt when you heard the news regarding the grant?

I was elated and excited, and immediately started to think about the next three years and how we can now fully deliver our full Long Term Match Officials Development vision.  We are honoured that Ontario Soccer had been acknowledged by The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in this way, and that OTF has recognized the importance of Match Officials to the game of soccer, and all of the previous work completed in order to get to this point in our LTOD initiative.

How do you see this grant impacting every day match officials?

This grant will allow Ontario Soccer to deliver Phase 2 of LTOD, and to permit us to provide a number of program items that we had previously did not have the capacity to:

Modify the current Club Head Referee role to ‘Club Development Officer, Match Officials’ role at the Club level.

This will entail creating and hosting a new accreditation program for over 250 current Club Head Referees over the next 18 months.  We have held multiple Club focus groups, produced surveys and attended meetings over the past year, and have involved hundreds of our community members in helping us understand the current Club Culture.  By listening to the community we can now create the accreditation program and deliver it across the Province.

Modify the current District Referee Coordinator role to ‘District Development Officer, Match Officials’ role. 

Again, this will require the creation and hosting of a new accreditation program for 21 current District Referee Coordinators over the next 24 months.  This program was again built after focus groups, meetings and surveys and will be based on the feedback from the community.

These two accreditation are important to our Match Officials because every Match Official in this province has a touch point with either a Club or a District on a regular basis.  Currently there is inconsistency in delivery, training, support, mentorship and education and we need to ensure that every official has access to trained leaders in their community, and a consistent development program with equalized opportunity.

Parent and Coach Training Module

We are not just talking about educating stakeholders on Laws of the Game, we are also talking about the knowledge of the development pathway of Match Officials.  If an official is on a U10 or U12 game, it is most likely their first or second year of officiating, but the expectation of performance perfection is prevalent amongst the coaches and parents.  We need to provide an information program to the Clubs that can be delivered at the grassroots level to all parents and coaches.  By starting at the grassroots level we aim to not only reduce the abuse and dissent towards all officials, but increase the understanding of Law of those on the touchlines.

Standardization of league rules by age group 

Multiple times while on the road in 2017, we heard about the discrepancy in league rules at the Club level.  Match Officials are often the targets of the frustration of the parents and coaches when different rules are being applied within the same age groups.  The LTOD leadership group will be meeting with Ontario Soccer’s Technical Advisory Committee to develop consistent rules once we have accumulated all of the league rules from across the Province.

The two items above are so important because the more we can educate, standardize and create consistent environments across the Province, all involved in Soccer in Ontario will benefit.

The Mentor Program

We currently do not have an official evaluation process for Mentors.  This will be built into a new and improved Mentor Program.  Other areas that will be improved are:

  • New accreditation clinic will be created
  • Central Provincial repository for all mentor reports
  • Screening and application process for Mentors
  • Youth mentor training program
  • Evaluation process for all mentors


The Futsal community is a passionate community, and it has been mentioned to us many times during Phase 1 of LTOD that they wish to be included in LTOD.  Therefore, in 2018 Futsal will be included in the development pathways, for Match Officials, assessors and instructors.  This will include registration exams, fitness tests, education and mentoring.

Who do you think is going to benefit the most from this?

LTOD has been created so that everyone benefits. 

I know some are saying ‘why is this not happening now?’ but we are creating baselines in all areas of the program, we are implementing standards, creating performance measurements and defining key deliverables. 

I often wish I could snap my fingers, or wave a magic wand and LTOD Phases 1 and 2 would be in place – but a very important component of the program is the understanding of the needs of the Match Officials, our community and the Development Support Team members.  We are taking the time to listen, understand and implement correctly, consistently and efficiently.

We also have to ensure that not our only Match Officials community benefits and develops through LTOD – we need to work with Administrators, Coaches, Board of Directors, and Technical Leaders in the Club and District environment.  We need to educate everyone on the importance of Match Officials in our game.  We aim to create a culture where Match Officials Development is an automatic item in budget and programming development at every level.

Can you explain how this money will be combined with the LTOD fees to help foster this emerging development culture?

We originally applied for a grant from The Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2016. While we were initially unsuccessful we were encouraged to make a further attempt in 2017. Our alternative strategy was to implement the program over an extended period of time and we elected to use a 2 phase approach - the initial Phase 1 commenced in 2017. Our reapplication to OTF submitted in the fall of 2017 was specifically for Phase 2.

To facilitate the implementation of Phase 1 we introduced the LTOD Program Fee as part of the registration process in 2017.  Clinic hosting fees were also increased. These fees will remain in place as they are required to maintain funding for Phase 1 of the program.  These LTOD fees do not cover the costs of Phase 2 over the next 3 to 4 years. 

This grant amount, plus the LTOD program fees will allow us to deliver on our original vision of an all-inclusive LTOD program – Programs that can be delivered and provided at the Club, District and Provincial level – and to be the leader in Match Officials Development in Canada.

For more information, I welcome our members to review the Year 1 reports and other LTOD information on the Ontario Soccer website.