It’s great when someone has your back in Calgary minor soccer
By April Cruz
The opportunity of becoming a Calgary minor soccer referee is possible through participating in a four hour course at the Calgary Minor Soccer Association (CMSA). Anyone, especially youth between the ages of 12 to 18, are encouraged to consider this fun, paying gig.
The chance, however, of a 12 or 13 year old becoming a very confident and competant referee for Calgary minor soccer games, is possible thanks to a unique mentorship program, also accessible at the CMSA.
It was four years ago that the concept of mentoring the 12 and 13 year old referees in order to assist and retain them in this important role, was born.
At the start, 40 referees participated in the program.
Today, there are 115 of them refereeing Calgary minor soccer games. Half are brand new to the role.
The training course is offered at the CMSA twice a year, preparing referees for the indoor and outdoor Calgary minor soccer seasons. This year, an additional course had to be added due to demand.
The CMSA Referee Mentor and Coordinator, Brian Wilkens, takes great pride in providing a unique kind of support through the program to 12 and 13 year old referees.
He should be proud. Brian came up with an idea that isn’t being done any where else. It has had a huge impact.
This unique support comes in Brian’s ability to communicate with a young referee while they’re on the pitch, officiating a game. Similar to the driving instructor who also has access to a steering wheel or the breaks, just not in the same car.
Before a game, he wraps a light, stretchy belt around the referee’s waist, with a small receiver attached to it. Then an ear bud connected to the receiver slides up the referee’s back and fits snuggly into their ear. The uniform goes over top so all that is really visible is a slight bulge in the back, where the receiver sits. The referee can hear Brian talking but can not talk back. Brian will find a spot to sit on the sidelines that gives him a helpful vantage point of the action on the field.
The linesmen can also be hooked up during the same game, allowing Brian to communicate with all three officials, either simultaneously or individually through their own channel on his radio.
Throughout the game, the referee will be able to hear Brian’s suggestions, guidance and encouragement. A Calgary minor soccer referee’s co-pilot.
When players, coaches and parents on the sidelines are bombarding a 12 or 13 year old referee with information, knowing Brian has their back makes all the difference. He can talk them through and keep them on track.
Brian shared that ’90 percent of the referees hesitate to get hooked up at the start’ but ’100 percent say it’s an incredible tool once they’ve done it’.
Knowing that Brian would be there for them when they were stuck on the field in the middle of a game, has proven to be a tremendous confidence builder for the young referees.
The top three benefits of this kind of mentoring according to Brian are confidence, on the spot education and support.
This co-piloting is typically only necessary once or twice. Afterwards, Brian notes that the young referee becomes more comfortable in the position.
He aims to have every 12 and 13 year old referee covered at least once and estimates that this is done by no later than December.
At any point, a young referee can ask to be hooked up. It may not be Brian that co-pilots every request. He does have a list of seasoned referees who are also able to provide support and feedback to a young referee looking to improve.
This is just one of the many unique methods of support a young referee receives from participating in the CMSA Mentorship Program but it’s definitely one of the coolest.
Wouldn’t it be great to have such guidance in many circumstances? ‘April, put down the cookie. Go for a run.’ Thanks Brian.
For more information about the CMSA Referee courses, visit the CMSA site.