Do you have any role models in refereeing?
– Absolutely. Sheena Dickson, Dave Gantar, Joe Fletcher… all big names in Canada. One of my mentors, who I even call ‘Coach’, is Owen Procter, who is part of the Alberta Soccer Referee Development Team. He laid a foundation for me that has given me so much.
Sadly, referees have to deal with abuse constantly. How do you manage that? Is there an advice you could give to emerging referees?
– Unfortunately, that is part of our sport. What I would say to younger referees is that you need to have at least 2-3 people in your life: one is a confidant at home – it can be a parent, a spouse, a sibling-, someone who doesn’t know soccer, and who is just happy to listen to you. Then you need someone who knows soccer, who will listen to you and give you some feedback; and finally, you need a friend to meet you halfway. It can be hard, but with the help of your loved ones, it can be handled.
What do you think needs to be done in order to improve referee recruitment and retention?
– There need to be a few more incentives, whether is pay, or creating a collective on the referee’s side. Building an environment where people feel safe with support systems in place would be really important. Outside the field is the support group that gets you through.