Soccer Estrie nears normal registration numbers, but struggles with volunteers, referees

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative
Soccer Estrie nears normal registration numbers, but struggles with volunteers, referees

Kids are returning to the soccer field in droves this year, as Soccer Estrie has seen a five per cent increase in registration numbers compared to 2021, but there remains a significant challenge in finding referees and experienced volunteers to run the region’s soccer teams.

Soccer Estrie General Manager André Cabana told The Record that the organization is not quite at pre-pandemic registration numbers, but they’re approaching the benchmark set three years ago. Cabana said they have 5,500 registered players — there were 5,600 in 2019.

However, while he’s pleased with the turnout this year, Cabana noted that the same problems continue to persist to this very day. There are a lot of interested young players, but there is a referee shortage, and the organization struggles to find capable and willing volunteers.

The nine associations within Soccer Estrie are making efforts to attract parents to the field, and recruit referees, he explained. And while he is confident they’ll be ready for the upcoming season, Cabana noted another challenge has been convincing parents to undergo training.

“They’re willing to give a helping hand, but they don’t necessarily have the experience or ability yet, so we need to motivate them to do a few hours of training at the very least in order to properly support the players on the field,” Cabana said in a phone interview.

When asked specifically about the referee situation, the general manager said Soccer Estrie is experiencing many of the same issues as baseball and hockey leagues around the province. More and more referees are leaving because they’re fed up with angry parents and coaches.
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