CFL, Football Canada create task force to help boost officiating recruitment, retention

Photo: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The CFL and Football Canada have teamed up to help remedy what they’ve called a “significant challenge surrounding officiating capacity” in Canadian football.

Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s associate vice-president of officiating, will co-chair a new officiating task force with Football Canada president Jim Mullin.

“Across the country, football leaders, administrators, parents and more have shared stories of competitions being impacted or even cancelled due to a lack of officials. This should not happen,” said Hackwood in a statement.

“The football community needs to come together to train and support more officials, and to ensure promising recruitment programs are able to grow, as we continue strengthening the game in Canada.”

The group will gather leaders from the world of officiating with the goal of developing strategies to improve recruitment and retention of officials. The task force will also seek to advocate on the behalf of officials and help create a more respectful environment for those who work in the field.

“A joint effort focusing on key challenges is what our officiating community demands to spark growth,” said Mullin. “The co-leadership of the CFL on this project is essential for our ‘third team’ to have a deep bench across the country.”

The news accompanied the announcement that the CFL league office and its nine member clubs invested $3.1 million in amateur football in 2022.

“As a league, we’re proud of the CFL’s tremendous support of amateur football last year through direct donations, clinics, events, appearances, programs, volunteerism and much more, but there is no growth in any sport without officials,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

“While expanding community outreach and improving grassroots development introduces more youth into the game, the role of qualified officiating in bringing these athletes to the next level cannot be overstated.”