Among all of the hustle and bustle of the Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current, Sask., it’s easy to forget that there are officials who make sure the contests happen in a fair and impartial manner.
After all, officials know they’re doing their job if people forget they’re even there to begin with.
Nick Rivet was one of those who did just that earlier this week and made some history along the way.
Rivet became the first-ever soccer official from the NWT to adjudicate on-field at the Games, taking charge of several games as a centre official.
He said it all happened courtesy of the organizing committee.
“They reached out to us (NWT Soccer) and to Yukon to see if we could provide any officials,” he said. “Yukon didn’t have anyone, unfortunately, but I was able to put my name forward and there I went.”
Soccer officials need to be certified at the regional level, at the minimum, in order to be considered, which is the level Rivet is at currently, though he did use the Games as a chance to move up.
“I’m in the process of becoming a provincial official, which is the next level above regional,” he said.
Needless to say, the level of soccer in Swift Current was much higher than Rivet had officiated before but he said that was to be expected.
“Here in Yellowknife, we have recreational league games and the Arctic Winter Games, which is futsal,” he said. “You can’t really compare futsal with the outdoor game and the league in Yellowknife is nine-a-side. The games in Swift Current were full-field, 11-a-side, and it’s quick. You have to be fast and you have to be in position at all times.”
There were very few blowout games in either the boys or girls divisions and that meant Rivet had to be on top of his game the first time, every time, especially considering there were no playoff games to determine the medal winners, he said.
“Standings mattered so I had to be ready for anything,” he said. “There are some bad habits you can develop doing rec league here at home but when you go down there, you’re part of a crew and everyone has to work together.”
That crew included two assistant referees (AR) on the sidelines (touch) and a fourth official, who handles substitutions and timekeeping, among other things.
“You have to pay attention to your AR’s more,” said Rivet. “That’s something you have to get used to because it’s fast and you may be out of position and the AR may have had a better view than you did on a ruling.”
The one thing Rivet had to endure was plenty of running, a lot more than what he’s used to in Yellowknife especially in his game between Alberta and Yukon on the boys side.
“I think I did the beep test twice in that game,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s definitely a lot more running and your fitness needs to be at its peak. It’s non-stop running and I think I did alright although there are areas where I know I can improve.”
Rami Ayache, NWT Soccer’s executive director, said it was a surprise when he found out Rivet had been chosen to work in Swift Current but it’s encouraging for the future of officiating in the NWT.
“It shows we’re following the national guidelines and (NWT Soccer) is going in the direction it should be,” he said. “It’s not just local anymore. We have the opportunity now to be on the national stage and having Nick there shows the younger referees where they can go.”
“I had a great time there,” said Rivet. “It was an eye-opener, for sure, but I’m hoping to get the chance to do something like this again in the future.”