Boys and girls leagues underway with teams from Yorkton, Swift Current, Weyburn vying for league titles alongside crews from Central and Vanier
The Moose Jaw High School Athletic Association boys and girls soccer leagues are moving along full-steam ahead, but they could use a bit of help.
As it turns out, the local organization — which includes six teams from southern Saskatchewan on the girls side and four on the boys side — isn’t immune to the trend of a lack of on-field officials that has taken hold in the province as of late.
As a result, the leagues are putting out a call to any soccer referees or linesmen in the community who might be interested in returning to the sport or, if they’re newcomers to Moose Jaw, signing on to help work games.
“It’s the same people doing all the games, and it gets to be a bit much, especially when there are a lot of games at once,” said MJHSAA soccer commissioner Ray Rawlyk. “It’s that way in all the other cities, too, some of them are having even more of a problem than us, to the point they can’t even play. So it’s tough, but we’re going to see what we can do to address the problem and get more development out there.”
That’s where some of the difficulty arises, and something Rawlyk admits the local group is guilty of, too — you simply get used to counting on the same people to show up season after season, but as folks get older or move away from the community. , there isn’t anyone available to step up and replace them.
“There hasn’t been any development recently, and a lot of that is on us,” said Rawlyk, who is also head coach of the Central Cyclones boys soccer team. “But it’s something we’re going to try and work on…. We’re thinking it’s something we’ll put into our team practice, where you can learn how to line and some will learn how to ref, and if I can keep one or two people who don’t move away from Moose Jaw, we ‘ll have a pool to draw on again.”
The good news from an officiating scheduling point-of-view is that the local schedule isn’t all that busy this season. Only one Moose Jaw team is playing on the boys side of things, that being the defending 4A boys provincial champion Cyclones, while the defending 4A girls provincial champion Vanier Spirits are joined by Central as the lone local girls teams.
A total of 10 regular-season games in Moose Jaw through Oct. 4 remain on the schedule, before the playoffs take center stage on Oct. 12. Moose Jaw will also be hosting the 4A boys provincial championships during the Oct. 28 weekends.
Officials looking to work high-end SHSAA contests can go through www.shsaa.ca for more information, while more locally, referees and linesmen can be trained on a mentorship program, much like Rawlyk plans to do with the Cyclones.
Then, of course, there’s the open call for experienced officials who might have recently moved to Moose Jaw.
“We’re hoping there are some people out there who want to get back into it, and we’re more than happy to have them,” Rawlyk said.
For more information on how to get into officiating MJHSAA games, feel free to give Rawlyk a shout at (306) 630-5525 or by e-mail at [email protected]
The leagues return to action this Saturday with a pair of games featuring out-of-town teams at the Yara Center fields. The Swift Current boys will play a doubleheader, taking on Yorkton Sacred Heart at 11 am and Yorkton Regional at 3 pm The Central girls are in action in Yorkton with a similar schedule, facing Regional in the morning and Sacred Heart in the afternoon.
Next local action for the girls league is Wednesday, Sept. 21 as Weyburn takes on Vanier, with kick-off at 4:30 pm at Yara West. The Central boys and girls will both be in action against Swift Current on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with both games at the Yara fields, also at 4:30 pm