PORT McNEILL—The North Island kicked off its soccer season this month, and on the eve of the first games Stu Power put the league’s aspiring referees through their paces with a clinic.
Power, referee-in-chief for the Comox Valley United Soccer Club and secretary for the Vancouver Island Soccer Referees’ Association (Northern Chapter), came to Sunset Elementary School in Port McNeill for the sixth year in a row to explain the finer points of arbitration to a new crop of whistle-blowers.
The free clinic, sponsored by North Island Youth Soccer and organized by Scott Harris of Port Hardy, local head referee, drew more than two dozen youths for the morning session on refereeing under-10 and younger brackets which are designated as “mini” soccer games.
After a break for lunch, eight of the older participants returned for the afternoon session on the slightly expanded ruleset used for divisional-level play.
In each session, the crop of officials-to-be were instructed in the classroom using video clips, a tabletop pitch and live demonstrations on the minutiae of the rules and their interpretation at each level. The students were then given quizzes on the laws of the game to test their knowledge.
The participants were also challenged to put their skills into practice as the sessions moved to the school gymnasium, learning correct positioning, hand signals and calls through examples.
The newly minted referees were in action the following day as the season opened Apr. 7 on the North Island, with games in Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Port Alice.
League action will continue each weekend through the spring, with the first tournament, the annual Mud Bowl in Port McNeill, slated for May 3-5.