Elite Women’s Referee Development Program
Canada Soccer hosted an Elite Women’s Referee Development Camp in late April as a continuation of the Federation’s preparation for the anticipated launch of a Women’s Professional Soccer in Canada. The three-day camp took place on 28-30 April in Laval, Quebec.
Led by FIFA instructor Michelle Pye, and National Instructor Alexis Vaughan, the camp featured 30 Canadian female referees from across eight provinces. The group of officials were brought together to be given specific training and education through a mix of classroom and on-field training. Referees also participated in appropriate standards of fitness tests.
“Now with the impending women’s professional league, it gives us the opportunity to offer more than just one pathway for Canadian refereeing,” said Isaac Raymond, Canada Soccer’s Referee Manager. “Many of these referees have been on our radar for some time and now we get the chance to bring them together and develop their skill sets for this new league. With this core group of 30 referees, we hope the program draws in more women who might be interested in refereeing professional soccer.”
Referees were selected through a combination of Canada Soccer Referee Department scouting, participation in Canada Soccer National events, and identification by Provincial and Territorial Member Associations.
“We scout by travelling the country and watching games, with the help of a network of people who recommend these officials,” added Raymond. “We bring them to events such as the 2022 Canada Games where we had 20 women refereeing in the soccer competition. Having them officiate different events (national, provincial, regional) is a great opportunity to audition them as we build the program. Our objective is to be able to prepare female referees so that as many if not all the games in this league are officiated by women.”
Canada Soccer’s Toyota National Championships in October will serve as a follow-up camp and development opportunity for a few of these officials in order for them to receive further education and assessment. With the help of coaches throughout the country, referees in the Canada Soccer refereeing program receive one-on-one advice throughout the year from former national and FIFA referees who are used to help support the program.
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.