The Bas-Saint-Laurent wants to promote the work of its officials

RIMOUSKI | Loisir et Sport Bas-Saint-Laurent is launching a campaign to promote young referees and officials in a context where 80% of them quit after one year of practice due to the verbal, psychological and physical abuse they too often suffer .

The Bas-Saint-Laurent wants to promote the work of its officials

RIMOUSKI | Loisir et Sport Bas-Saint-Laurent is launching a campaign to promote young referees and officials in a context where 80% of them quit after one year of practice due to the verbal, psychological and physical abuse they too often suffer .

• Read also: The attacker of the referee, an ex-teacher, apologizes

This is a pilot project that Sport’Aide and Sport Québec would like to see extended to other regions.

To convey the message to sports associations, Loisir et Sport Bas-Saint-Laurent is counting on the involvement of Sonia Denoncourt, the first female referee to have been accredited by FIFA, as spokesperson.

“In my 29 year career, I have never officiated a game without making a single mistake and I don't believe it is possible to do so. Coaches, parents and players need to be aware of this and realize that without referees or officials there is no sport. For soccer alone, we have 6,000 referees in Quebec, but 2,000 are missing. Games have been postponed since the start of the season for lack of referees. You have to recruit them and to keep them, you have to respect them more, ”says Ms. Denoncourt, who now works at Sport Quebec.

Damning testimonials

The director general of Sport'Aide, Sylvain Croteau, points out that the organization receives numerous testimonies from officials who have been victims of both verbal and physical abuse on its telephone hotline.

"It's a great project. We must combat violence in a sporting context. We need to do prevention and awareness. Sometimes referees make mistakes, but they deserve everyone's respect," he said.

Sonia Denoncourt adds that a referee can make between 900 and 1000 decisions in a 90-minute soccer match and cover the equivalent of more than 10 km.

"When you choose to step in or not step in and let it play. It's a decision. There will always be mistakes. What we try is to avoid serious mistakes as much as possible, ”adds the referee.

From this summer

The campaign will kick off this summer with soccer and baseball, and will incorporate hockey and indoor sports like basketball in the fall.

The sports advisor at Loisir et Sport Bas-Saint-Laurent, Josée Longchamps, who developed this campaign, suggests that sports federations wear armbands to identify young officials.

“We can act as facilitators, but enforcement is up to the associations. For example, we recommend that soccer tournament organizers provide a tent for officials. The teams all have them, but the referees have to try to find some shade under the stands or under a tree, after having refereed five or six games,” says Ms. Longchamps.

►The deployment of the campaign requires an investment of $20,000.

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