Advantage Given! Adult Integration Program Provides New Challenges and Experiences

BC Soccer Adult Integration Programs creates more opportunities and experiences for BC Referees

What it is about a ferry ride, or an overnight trip that completely changes the gameday experience for those taking part? As young players, some of our fondest memories occurred during tournaments in towns and at fields we’d never experienced before, and if there was a hotel involved…the adventure was elevated even further.

The same can be said for referees as they climb their own development pathway from small sided matches through youth provincial events and on to the many adult leagues that populate our province.

When the idea of assigning referees beyond their own backyard leagues was floated several years ago, reception from the BC Soccer membership was positive.  According to BC Soccer’s Director of Community Development Lori D’Andrea, there is an additional benefit to what essentially amounted to a “referee exchange”;

“When our adult teams compete in Provincial Cup playdowns, they’d often see referees for the first time. It’s nice to have familiarity from both sides, so that teams can get to know the referees and their personalities, and vice versa.”

The man who assigns referees to all the various competitions (Igor Cvetkovski, Referee Assignor & Development Coordinator / BCSPL Manager) says the spinoffs are numerous for the actual officials: 

“They are challenged more when they are grouped with different crews, and when they take charge of different games in new leagues.  The Referees love it, especially when there’s travel involved because you’re not just going to a park and going home…in some cases, like Powell River, they’re spending significant time with their colleagues.”

The refereeing trios are also teamed with an assessor/mentor who provides them a debrief following the games. This feedback is invaluable for referees as they further hone their skills over the course of the Integration Program and take their experiences and learning back to the league they usually referee matches for.

Ultimately, what really matters is the impact new environments have on referees and vice versa.  18-year-old Prem Gundarah has been travelling around BC as a referee’s assistant in a consistent crew of three.  The social and familiarity aspects may seem like small issues, but like any team, familiarity breeds trust:

“We are a team…just like the players.  Just going to Duncan allowed us to spend almost 13 hours together, which gave all of us a chance to bond, prepare for the games and dissect decisions afterwards.”

The Richmond resident says another positive aspect of officiating a variety of different leagues is that it shakes you out of any potential routine;

“It’s a totally different feeling from leaving home an hour and a half before kick-off, then coming back right after the game.  Those hours of preparation and reflection are where you probably learn the most. Then when you are around new teams and new players, it’s harder to predict what will happen which forces you to find new ways to referee games.”

The adult leagues participating in the Referee Integration Program include the Vancouver Metro Soccer League,, Fraser Valley Men’s League, Vancouver Island Soccer League , Richmond Adult Soccer Association, Burnaby Men’s Soccer League, Metro Women’s Soccer League and Lower Island Women’s Soccer League. 

Vince Greco, Executive Director, VISL, has been very outspoken publicly on how beneficial the Adult Integration program has been for his league: 

“As admin, we get to see other officials and how they handle themselves – which has been a treat so far ....... and very positive.  Players and officials are essentially starting with a clean slate and their behaviour and performance will dictate how the game will go on the day.”

Referee development will be a critical issue as the adult game continues to grow in BC, with more professional and semi professional clubs forming including the Canadian Premier League and USL2, along with the demands of the existing Adult amateur leagues, and the University / College system.

That means more opportunity, more new experiences…and certainly more bonding time for BC's aspiring officials. 

About BC Soccer:

BC Soccer is the provincial sport governing body with the mission to govern, promote and develop the game of soccer in British Columbia in a professional and progressive manner. Established in 1907, BC Soccer is the largest provincial sports organization (PSO) in BC and the third largest soccer-specific PSO in Canada with over 150,000 participants.  As a professional not-for-profit society and a member of Canada Soccer, BC Soccer is committed to providing the widest opportunities for existing and potential participants, as well as provide support in the most effective and appropriate way for current players, parents, volunteers, member clubs, leagues, and districts.

BC Soccer is comprised of more than 120,000 registered players, over 2,200 registered referees, and thousands of volunteer coaches, administrators, and soccer leaders. Working with its 40 member Youth Districts and 11 Adult Leagues as well as their affiliate member clubs, BC Soccer operates under the guiding principles of Professional Leadership, Passionate Service and Progressive Collaboration. In managing its relationships throughout the larger soccer community, BC Soccer’s vision is to ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to be involved in soccer as part of a lifelong commitment to an active, healthy and involved lifestyle.