SaltWire E-Edition

Female Officials Taking World Stage

By Ameeta Vohra

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin received an early present days before Christmas in 2022. The soccer referee learned she would be representing Canada for the second time at the Women’s World Cup. In July, she’ll travel to Australia to begin a training seminar for 10 days before the tournament. She will learn her game assignment 48 hours before kickoff. She is guaranteed one game and could get more based on her performance.

“It’s always a great pride and a lot of pressure when your name is on the final list of referees to go to the World Cup,” Beaudoin says. “In soccer, I relate being chosen as an official to being chosen as a player. The officials are like another team in the World Cup. We’ve been working with our team for four years now through the pandemic to be selected for that tournament.”

Beaudoin, a Halifax resident, was shortlisted as one of 150 candidates in 2021. She previously refereed at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.

Reaching this goal required focus, preparation, and remaining in peak condition physically and mentally. The challenge for Beaudoin included balancing her career and motherhood. She credits her family, Soccer Nova Scotia, and the referee community for helping her achieve her dream.

“Soccer Nova Scotia has been so helpful. I could pick up the phone any time when I was recovering from pregnancy and I needed (to referee) a game,” she says. “They gave me the games that I needed to prepare for whichever national or international appointment I was preparing for.

“It’s all about feeling respected in my decisions. My decision to have a family and also attempt to go to a second World Cup always felt respected by our referee community and that helps.”

Beaudoin isn’t the only female official from Nova Scotia excelling on the international stage.

Erin Schaus is leading the way for other women in canoe-kayak.

Schaus became the first female to serve as the official event starter at a world championships last year at Canoe ’22 in her hometown of Dartmouth. This led to gender parity at the event on Lake Banook where 13 of the 26 officials were women. Schaus had previously made history at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021 as the first female starter at either an Olympic or Paralympic competition.

This July, Erica Ans of Cole Harbour will head to the World University Games in Chengdu, China, to referee table tennis. She was an umpire for the mixed doubles and the men’s final at the Pan American Games in Chile last November and was also an umpire at the Commonwealth Games last August.

“This tournament is going to be my first one in Asia, and table tennis is super popular there,” Ans says. “I’m so excited to go to China and see what a table tennis tournament looks like with crowds filling the stadium.”

Ans also credited the support she’s received within her community.

“Sport Nova Scotia helped me. I applied for some funding for officials to go to Japan to go to the international referee school,” she says.

“I am a teacher, so my principal has been amazing in letting me take time off work and going to tournaments.”

Beaudoin, a referee for 20 years, has some advice for other women working toward their shot on the international stage.

“Soccer Nova Scotia is extremely supportive of female referees coming from all kinds of backgrounds,” she says. “If you feel that you’re ready for that next step … go find that person that is in charge of appointments, in charge of referee development, and let them know that you feel you’re ready.”

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