(April 4, 2019) Nearly 60 women gathered in both Edmonton and Calgary over the weekend to participate in the third edition of the Create Your Advantage (CYA) Program. The courses featured two, all-female sessions geared toward supporting and developing existing female officials.  

View photos and video from the weekend on Alberta Soccer’s Flickr profile 

In the morning, attendees took part in a refresher course, a mandatory education component that all referees must complete prior to officiating each season. The afternoon session included a female-created and led skill development session, which was tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities that women and girls face as referees.  

Carleen Beynon, the program lead for this season, led with the mindset that women supporting women is essential to the overall growth of soccer. 

“I believe that Alberta Soccer’s CYA course is an excellent opportunity for female officials of all ages to collaborate and share stories/ideas, in an open, engaging and empowering environment,” said Beynon. “We discussed a lot of different and difficult situations. We shared what works and what doesn’t. We talked about what goes into a proper warm-up, proper signals, and understanding and applying the Laws of the Game.”  

Both sessions were offered from the female perspective and in an interactive and conversational atmosphere, providing tangible solutions and growth opportunities for all involved. 

“The CYA course was a fantastic opportunity for me to share my experiences and give other female officials some tips and tools that have helped me become a better official,” continued BeynonI truly believe these courses will continue to help female officials instill confidence in themselves, improve their skills and abilities, and soccer in Alberta will greatly benefit as a result! 

Beynon’s sentiment as a session leader was echoed by participants in the course: 

“I really value meeting fellow female referees and being able to ask questions to individuals with more experience than me,” said one Create Your Advantage Participant. 

Ultimately, the goal of these initiatives for Alberta Soccer and the Development in Women in Soccer Committee is to provide female officials with a learning environment that offers opportunities to build their skill sets while meeting and learning from other women in the referee community. 

“Seeing the engagement of the women in these courses leads us to believe we are on track with our goals, said Carmen Charron, Women in Sport Leadership Program Lead. “We’ve been very pleased to see the enthusiastic response to the Create Your Advantage program and the all-female entry level courses this season.  

What’s Next 

Following up on the success of last weekend’s CYA Program, Alberta Soccer looks forward to hosting two, all-female Entry Level courses in Edmonton and Calgary this weekend. 

To support and increase the number of female officials in Alberta, districts and communities are encouraged to offer similar, all-female Refreshers and Entry Level courses. For questions about this, please reach out to Carmen Charron or Dave O’Neill. Alternatively, districts can submit a course request in the typical manner, simply adding “All-Female” to the course title in Ref Centre. 

About the Alberta Women in Sport Leadership Impact Program 

This is a 2.5-year initiative being offered by the Coaching Association of Canada and Alberta Sport Connection. This program is part of a larger project being funded by the Status of Women Ministry and intended to advance gender equality and leadership diversity in sport organizations in Alberta. Create Your Advantage is one of two programs offered by Alberta Soccer, with the other being the Women in Sport Leadership Coach Developer Initiative (click here for more info on this).