Six new participants selected for CFL’s Officiating Academy

Graphic courtesy: CFL

The Canadian Football League is adding fresh blood to their pool of referees, announcing six new participants in the league’s Officiating Academy on Thursday.

The program originally launched in 2022 with the support of the Canadian Professional Football Officials Association (CPFOA), the Canadian Football Officials Association (CFOA), Football Canada and the CFL Players’ Association (CFLPA) with the goal of helping to develop, train and support Canada’s pipeline of officials.

“The development of officials is synonymous with the development of the game,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said as part of a league statement. “Amateur officials working in community recreational leagues help youth develop skills, creating a safe and competitive environment, and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

“Proper officiating at the college and junior levels hones players’ knowledge and skills. At the professional level, our officials do an incredible job of managing the game to ensure a fair, exciting and entertaining game inspires fans and viewers across the country. At every level, officials play a critical role. And it is our goal through the Officiating Academy to help more officials perform at the highest level.”

“Skilled and trained officials allow our members to play exciting and safe CFL football,” CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay added as part of the release. “These individuals are necessary for the game to exist, and the Officiating Academy is an excellent way to provide high-level training for officials across the country at every level. The program’s success is evident as we have now seen its members regularly on fields across Canada.”

Participants in the yearlong program receive the opportunity to work closely with league staff and officials to deepen their knowledge of officiating, while gaining the experience and skill development needed to progress to the next step in their careers.

Two 2022 participants, line judge Eric Gyebi and umpire Kyle Mikulik, have been selected for CFL officiating crews this season. Four others are returning to the program for a second and final year alongside the six newcomers.

The program is scheduled to begin at CFL Officiating Training Camp from May 4-7 and will include both virtual and in-person sessions on officiating mechanics, standards, fitness, and administration, as well as a focus on the personal, emotional and mental well-being of officials.

Participants may be assigned to a CFL pre-season game, Passing Showcases, CFL Training Camp scrimmages, or placement in support staff positions for CFL games or in the CFL Command Centre. The full list can be found below.

​(Name | Hometown | Local association | Officiating position | Program status)

  • Sharon Airey | Edmonton | Edmonton OA | Umpire | New
  • John Paul Chorney | Winnipeg | MFOA | Umpire | New
  • Hassan Cohen | Nanaimo, B.C. | BCFOA | Back judge | Returning
  • Dan Fleischhaker | Regina | Regina FOA | Side judge | New
  • Romeo Kabongo | Airdrie, Alta. | Edmonton OA | Line judge | Returning
  • Eric LeBlanc | Dieppe, N.B. | NBFOA | Line judge | New
  • Tim Louman-Gardiner | Vancouver | BCFOA | Line judge | New
  • Matt Spetter | Edmonton | Edmonton OA | Umpire | New
  • Anthony Williams | Dartmouth, N.S. | NSFOA | Side judge | Returning
  • Vincent Williams | Halifax | NSFOA | Line judge | Returning