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Young Referees Wearing Green

By Randy Thoms Oct 17, 2022 | 12:49 PM

Young referees, under 18, will sport new green arm bands, when on the ice this year. Supplied photo.

Young hockey referees are wearing a new colour in northwestern Ontario.


It’s a program Hockey Northwestern Ontario has implemented as a way of eliminating abuse of officials.

Director of Officiating Bryan Graham says all officials under the age 18 are now wearing green armbands as a way of drawing attention that they are minors.

“These are basically children that are out there officiating the game just like the same age or a little bit older of the players that are on the ice,” notes Graham.

“Certainly, no parent or any hockey administrator would ever, ever in a million years allow the players to be verbally abused by an adult for a per perceived mistake on the ice or whatever, maybe they passed the puck to the wrong area. We would never tolerate adults talking to children and abusing them verbally like that. So why would we allow those same adults and coaches, etcetera, to abuse young officials that are on the ice refereeing the game and many of them for their first time.”

The program was adopted from one used in little league baseball in Montreal.

It was created to protect young umpires.

It was subsequently picked up by Hockey Eastern Ontario a couple of years ago with success.

Graham also sees the program helping retain young referees.

He notes many have left the game after just one of two seasons.

“And the number one reason that they leave the program after the first year or possibly the second year is because of verbal abuse. So, we need to stop that. We all talk about hockey culture and how things are changing, well this has to change,” says Graham.

“We need to protect these officials. There is a massive shortage of officials across Canada for hockey, and we all know if there are no officials, there are no games.”


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