© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Stations were set up all around Max Clunie Field on the weekend with players from the Northern Lights School Division getting top-notch instruction from the Football Saskatchewan coaching staff. Football officials also had a clinic this weekend as a large number participated in sessions held in the Summer Games Building. Shown in the photo is a partial view of the activities that were given to the players and coaches during the three-day event.
While players and coaches were outside being put through their paces, football officials from northern Saskatchewan were also hitting the books this weekend as a Canadian Football Association official’s clinic was held at the Summer Games Building in Prime Ministers’ Park.
“The goal is to try and have the northern league be self-sufficient,” explained Barry Mihilewicz, one of the facilitators of the event. “This is just such an excellent program for the north in general and all of its communities.”
“It’s amazing to see the spirit in the northern communities,” added Mihilewicz, who along with other local officials worked games in the newly-formed northern Saskatchewan league last year. “It really brings the whole community out; sport and culture makes such a positive difference.”
Mihilewicz has been an official in Prince Albert for more than 30 years and when he got involved it was the local group getting lessons from experienced referees out of Saskatoon.
Now that the Prince Albert Football Referees Association has grown in numbers and experience, it is up to them to pass on their knowledge to those in northern communities.
“We had a clinic in LaRonge last year and there are a couple that now have their Level 1 or Level 2,” said Mihilewicz. “They are now mentoring other officials and you need that in a program to sustain it.”
About 15 officials were at the clinic in Prince Albert on the weekend giving the northern communities a strong base to work with. Introductory information was passed on for sideline and umpire positions and Mihilewicz is hopeful that three or four will progress into head referee positions.
While they will still rely on the experience of Prince Albert officials when working games a big step in the right direction has already been made with the interest being shown by the large group of newcomers.
Football has indeed become a provincial sport.