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Referee climbs his way to national ranks
Manitoba may no longer have an active FIFA assistant referee to its credit, but a young official has been added to the national ranks.
Peter Manastyrsky, 33, became the only Manitoban on the national list of assistant referees when he received his badge in Montreal in February.
The Transcona resident, who grew up and started refereeing youth soccer in East Kildonan when he was 16, is the province’s highest-ranking official following the retirement of Hector Vergara from FIFA’s international ranks.
For his first two assignments, Manastyrsky was on the sidelines in Edmonton for a pair of North American Soccer League matches in May and July.
"The first time (doing a professional game) was exciting," he said, "but my nerves were going.
I didn’t know what to expect. But the anxiety goes down and you just focus on the game once the whistle blows."
In a July 15 game between FC Edmonton and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the lone goal was scored by the visitors on a play that was inches from being offside. Manastyrsky didn’t raise his flag, and an officiating assessor questioned the call after the game. But the instant replay showed that he was correct.
"You only have so many seconds to make the call," he said. "And you hope it doesn’t change the outcome of the game."
Manastyrsky is hoping for more NASL assignments before the season is over, and will be officiating at the club national championships in the fall. His goal is to eventually be considered by Major League Soccer, the top professional league in North America.
"I’m the new kid on the block in the national program," he said. "There’s stepping stones to get through. The goal down the line would be to get into the MLS system in maybe five years."
After a couple years as a player and referee, Manastyrsky decided to focus entirely on his whistle and yellow and red cards.
"I figured I could go farther as a referee than as a player," he said. "It wasn’t worth getting injured anymore."
He always knew he wanted to officiate at the highest level, and dedicated himself to improving his craft, taking on Vergara as a mentor.
"He’s doing what he needs to do," said Vergara, who is the longtime executive director of the Manitoba Soccer Association. "He’s always working on his fitness, his mental preparation and doing well at competitions. He’s a good role model for younger referees."
Like all national officials, Manastyrsky must pass three fitness tests every year, and is constantly being evaluated for his on-field performance.
"It you keep doing well, you’ll keep getting opportunities," he said.
Vergara said having top-level officials from Manitoba travelling the country and the world only helps in the constant search for new referees. As the game continues to grow locally, more people are needed to call the games.
"We keep on increasing the number of referees," Vergara said. "But if the number of games and competitions increases, then the demand supersedes the supply."
(1 of 5 articles for this week)05/22/2013 1:00 AM 0
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