Who’d want to be an official in any sport? They’re the ones that jilted spectators love to hate.
Fortunately, six brave people wanted the challenge of being a futsal referee and attended NWT Soccer’s clinic over the weekend. It was a split of in-class work at the Donald Cooper Building and practical on-court work at the Multiplex with Joe Audi, one of Canada Soccer’s national referee instructors.
Audi said everyone got a full weekend worth of what is required to enter the futsal referee system.
“For the in-class sessions, we went over the laws of the game, we had video sessions to give them an idea of some of the things they might encounter on the court,” he said. “When we got out on the court, we worked on the signals, their positioning, how to manage yellow and red cards, penalty kicks. It wasn’t meant to be fun but all about education.”
Sunday, though, was a bit more entertaining than the two previous days. The group played a Family Feud-style game with questions based on what they had learned. The final portion of the weekend was the exam and the results were posted to the Canada Soccer website on Monday.
It was good news all around.
“Everyone passed,” said Audi. “They now need to practice what they’ve learned and be invited to referee some futsal games wherever they can.”
The clinic was mandatory for anyone looking to officiate at the Arctic Winter Games this coming March but more than that, Audi said this was the best way for people to climb up the ladder in terms of refereeing, something regular indoor soccer can’t give them.
“The first thing that’s important to remember is futsal is the game endorsed by FIFA,” he said. “You can go from district referee to regional to provincial/territorial and then get your FIFA badge to do it internationally with all of the support from Canada Soccer. You can’t do that with indoor soccer.”
Along with the refereeing, Audi said futsal is a better way for people to learn soccer indoors.
“You don’t have a bouncy ball like indoor soccer does,” he said. “It’s perfect for kids because the ball is at their feet as opposed to bouncing all over the place and it’s good for coaches as well because the game is more conducive to teaching.”
Some of the best players around have all played futsal at one point or another, he added.
“People like Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and others,” he said. “Indoor soccer is fun and I’ve played and refereed it but futsal is the future and it’s perfect for the North. The court size is almost the same as a gym floor so for Yellowknife, you could play it in any gym.”