Last Saturday I heard something that I don't hear often from my fellow referees, "It was a great game. I really enjoyed it." That was in reference to a game at Ted Dixon Park between Sechelt and Sliammon.
Contrast that to Sunday's experience at Hackett Park. The team officials were treated with disrespect and pelted with personal insults throughout the match. It was not a great game, and it was not fun. It took every ounce of courage to remain at the field while abuse and insults were being hurled at us. They came from everyone: the elders at the sidelines, the young men smoking pot behind the fence and various fans, many of whom know me personally from the women's league.
Abusing the referees has been a favourite pastime at soccer matches for years. It has been tolerated and overlooked far too long. It is time to recognize that it is wrong and that people must take personal responsibility for their actions.
Referees are an essential part of the game, trained in the laws and practised in their application. Without us there would be no game, so why are we treated like something smelly on the bottom of a shoe?
Today I'm discouraged, dismayed and hurt. I'm that one step closer to hanging up my cleats. And I'm angry - angry that a 14-year-old referee was reduced to tears. Angry that the soccer community fails to show due respect for officials. Angry that this letter may just add to further abuse and insults levelled at me for having stated an obvious, ugly fact that is hurting our sport.
Is it possible for our community to come out and support soccer without subjecting the officials to abuse? It is time it was.
Laurie Miller, Gibsons
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