(December 11, 2017) Last week, Canada Soccer announced that 17 of its match officials were named to the esteemed FIFA International Referees List. Of the 17 named, four hail from Alberta.

Making up three of the five Canadians selected in the Referee category are Alberta’s Sheena Dickson, who has featured on the list since 2013, Drew Fischer, since 2015, and Dave Gantar, since 2011. Micheal Barwegen, of Coaldale, Alberta, will proudly see his name added to the list of FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees in 2018.

“Promotion to the FIFA International Referee List is an honour bestowed on Canada Soccer’s top match officials that have demonstrated the highest level of professional integrity and performance,” said Peter Montopoli, Canada Soccer General Secretary. “Congratulations to these 17 men and women who have all showcased themselves to be deserving of their place among the top echelon of match officials globally.” (from Canada Soccer)

“As Peter Montopoli said, being one of Canada Soccer’s top match officials is a great honor. Stepping up to the privilege of being part of an elite group of referees comes with a lot of responsibility,” explains Micheal Barwegen. “Being recognized is certainly great. However, now it is my task to continue to perform to represent not only Alberta Soccer, and Canada Soccer, but also represent all those individuals who worked with me and helped me along the way to this place. It is really the reason to push myself to be the best that I can be.”

Micheal began his referee career at 12 years old as a way to earn some extra cash and it was something he enjoyed doing as he grew up. As a teenager in the Lethbridge area, he was fortunate to be surrounded with high levels of soccer thanks to Usport, ACAC, and the AMSL. With the support of local mentors, leaders, and organizers, Micheal was able to get his foot in the door – officiating these games at a relatively young age. “I truly loved it,” he said. “The higher the level I did the more I wanted to pursue it.”

As the years passed, Micheal completed his upgrade courses and received multiple opportunities to officiate at the Provincial and National level. In 2011,  all the weekends away, travel time, and training came together and he was nominated to the National List of Officials – ultimately receiving his National badge as an assistant referee in early 2012.

“The support, guidance, and opportunities have continued and it is a great honor to have been even nominated towards the international list of referees. The fact that I have been accepted is a great privilege and it really is a personal highlight of my career so far. Currently it is great to have received this honor, and now the real work begins.”

Congratulations to each of the Alberta officials who have been selected to represent our province and country!

For more information about officiating in Alberta, click here