Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The Bieber soccer panic
I got a desperate call this morning: could I referee a nine-year-old soccer match Tuesday evening?
Youth referees are jamming referee schedulers’ phone lines and overloading their email systems in a stampede to cancel out on refereeing assignments they’d accepted for Tuesday evening. Matches normally handled by 13-to-15-year-old refs are now being offered to adults, who were already in scarce supply.
It seems there’s a Justin Bieber concert at the arena, and the young refs with tickets have just discovered their conflict.
Alas, I’m already booked to referee 17-year-old boys, which I’ve mentioned before on several occasions could be basically a battle scene from Braveheart with a ball tossed into the middle of the melee. But I digress.
I also raised with the official who called me, what about the teams playing that night? I’m thinking that 17-year-old boys may not be a Bieber crowd, but younger players across the city will likely have concert tickets. Won’t there be teams short of players, maybe even facing the prospect of forfeiting out of playoff contention for the city finals?
Silly me, I’ve only been involved in youth soccer since 1996 -- we all know the likelihood of WYSA’s rescheduling matches because of conflicting events. If you can’t get a game switched because of Yom Kippur...
Meanwhile, parents whose kids play Tuesday evening, and whose kids don’t have Bieber tickets, bring along a whistle and some running shoes -- the teams may turn to the crowd to find a ref.
More Telling Tales Out of School
More Telling Tales Out of School
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About Nick Martin
Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.
He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.
Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.
Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.
Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.
Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.
Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.
A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.
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