It’s common to think of the commitment high-level athletes must make, but high-level officials must make them, too.
Transcona resident Peter Manastyrsky, Jr. has made them, and for it, he had a busy summer. The 35-year-old travelled all over the country to work as an assistant referee for a plethora of high-level games and tournaments.
"This year has been a good year for me," he said.
Manastyrsky most recently officiated at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships from in Saint John, N.B. from Nov. 6 to 9.
Manastyrsky explained the onerous annual process referees must undergo to make the cut — it starts with a fitness test in January, followed by an online exam, an annual camp in February, and then further video and written testing. Only after all these tasks are completed successfully will referees receive assignments.
This summer, Manastyrsky officiated four FC Edmonton games in the North American Soccer League. He also served as an assistant during a Major League Soccer reserve game between the Toronto FC reserves and the United Soccer Leagues’ Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
He said the highlight of the summer was the opportunity to be a part of the crew for the boys’ gold medal game at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
"It’s the highest type of competition in Canada, and it only comes every four years," he said. "It’s like the Olympics for Canadian athletes.
"There are only so many officials across Canada at the national level that were asked to participate. I was fortunate."
In order to stay in shape, he works out five days a week by going on long runs, partaking in speed-endurance training, and practical on-field training.
Manastyrsky hopes to get to the Major League Soccer level someday, but said getting up to international play is almost entirely out of the question, as the grooming process would have already been underway. As for the MLS, he hopes to be able to impress the Canadian Soccer Association board and take it from there.
"I’m only 35, but they (FIFA) try to identify and have people selected at an earlier age so then they can get them through tournaments and develop them, just like a player," he said. "I just maintain my fitness, train, make sure I do well in my games.
"It’s out of my control."
Manastyrsky started out as a soccer player in the Kilcona system, and has been refereeing senior-level soccer since he was 16. He credits his father, Winnipeg Dynamo Kyiv Soccer Club president Peter, Sr., with driving him to games before he was able to transport himself, and for keeping him going through moments of doubt.
Manastyrsky, who is the executive director of the Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association, said working to achieve the dream wouldn’t be possible without support from his wife Breanne and an understanding board of directors at work.