Vancouver Female Ice Hockey Association
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#LevelTheField: VFIHA referee clinics supported by viaSport grant

Vancouver Female Ice Hockey Association (VFIHA) is continuing to lead the way for female officials in BC by providing another season of referee clinics and mentorship.

Over 230 new and existing female officials from around the Lower Mainland have attended VFIHA’s pre-season clinics over the last five years, with more female officials attending last season’s clinics than ever before.

This season, VFIHA’s clinics are supported financially by the viaSport LeadForward Grant, a new grant that was created with the aim of supporting the training and development of female coaches, officials and organizational staff. VFIHA was one of eight organizations from BC awarded this grant.

This financial support will help address one of the key barriers to officials – the cost of attending clinics and purchasing necessary equipment – while supporting the growth of more opportunities for girls and women to pursue officiating.

VFIHA hosts three referee clinics throughout the season and provides experienced officials to act as mentors to new and developing officials both on and off the ice. Through providing ongoing support to female officials at various stages, VFIHA aims to encourage more females to get involved in hockey as officials and to keep female officials in the game.

“When I was a younger official I wish I could have had someone that could of helped me and made the learning curve easier,” said Vancouver Female Senior Officiating Mentor Sarah Lash. “I like helping the youth strive to reach their goals and be the best they can be. It is amazing to see young female officials develop, become confident, and apply this when they referee games.”

The first clinic VFIHA offers is the Vancouver Female Referee Pre-Season Clinic, which is open to referees from all female hockey associations and is the largest female referee training clinic in Metro Vancouver.

To cater to officials at every step of their journey, the Pre-Season Clinic is split into three groups – new officials, second year officials, and officials with three or more years of experience.

“There is a natural interest in officiating in many of the female players. Seeing young and adult female officials in their games is an unintentional recruitment tool which in itself says, ‘Yes, you can do this too.’ We’ve purposely had our clinics for new refs in the pre-season specifically to make it easy for those interested to be able to attend,” said VFIHA Referee-in-Chief Dairobi Paul.

“For the returning refs, the pre-season clinic is one of the few times they meet together as a group. It is an important event to help retain our officials. We actively ask them what they are having difficulties with and what influences them to stay with officiating, or not. We encourage a sense of camaraderie to prevent an official feeling isolated when they find themselves in mentally and emotionally challenging circumstances.”

The clinics involve both classroom training and on-ice training and are led by experienced instructors from VFIHA, the PCAHA, and BC Hockey. Registration is currently open for these clinics.

More information about the New Officials Pre-Season Clinic can be found here: http://www.vancouvergirlshockey.com/new-referee-pre-season-clinic/

More information about the Returning Officials Pre-Season Clinic (second year and three plus years) can be found here: http://www.vancouvergirlshockey.com/returning-referee-pre-season-clinics/