They may not sport the same jersey, but the 100 Mile House Soccer League (OMHSA) referees are a hard team to beat.
Head referee Catherine Davis said in the recent Cariboo Youth Soccer League Tournament, the refs outplayed everyone.
“There were 13 OMHSA referees and two Williams Lake referees on this team. Most of the referees were kids or young adults, and most of them refereed four games each, back-to-back, with almost no rest,” said Davis.
Elyas Day is head of the referee mentor program, which he started in 2019. The program is designed to help younger and less experienced refs gain the confidence and experience they need to officiate on their own.
Day was a player on one of the 100 Mile House house teams for 11 years before becoming a mentor to the up-and-coming referees and enjoyed the fast paced nature of the game.
He said the tournament was a fun and exciting experience, even though they were short of referees.
“It kind of changes how you referee, and your positioning has to be drastically different in some circumstances. So that’s good because it really forces you to be more on top of your game,” said Day.
Lauren Aikenhead plays for the Peter Skene Ogden Eagles girl’s soccer team. Since becoming a referee three years ago, she has really appreciated the supportive energy among the refs and mentors.
“It was a lot of rushing around and stuff, but I thought it all went smoothly. I think the referee program has always been great,” said Aikenhead.
Another youth mentor, Julia Siclari, has been playing soccer since around the same time she could walk and has been officiating games for over five years. She says the best thing about becoming a mentor is giving people the support she feels is needed to officiate games.
Siclari played with her house and school soccer until an injury forced her to the sidelines. Even with a sprained ankle, however, she used her player experience and officiating history to help support new referees.
David said the organization takes pride in the mentorship program as there isn’t a lot of support for new referees.
“There was a young girl who had never reffed before, and Julia gave her tips, and this girl was so grateful,” said Davis.
“If they don’t have a mature figure, it’s hard because they don’t know a lot, so our association is strong with that having mentors, it helps them grow. It helped me when I was coming up,” said Siclari.
The OMHSA spent two weeks putting the tournament together, and Davis says she is proud of how everything turned out. She wanted to highlight the hard work, dedication, and professionalism the young referees showed during the tournament.
She reminded people that ‘Without a referee, there cannot be a game. Without a competent referee, you can’t have fair fun for all players.
“They all made me proud,” said Davis.