Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Nov. 23


 

Team of the Month

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney



(Posted 7:30 a.m., Aug. 29)
Orléans soccer referee returns from Olympic assignment
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

When Canada's women's soccer team lost in the Olympic semi-finals to Germany, it meant that a shot at a gold or silver medal was out of reach. Instead they had to settle for bronze with a gutsy win over the host team from Brazil.

Team Canada may not have made the final, but our country was represented in the gold medal game nonetheless with the presence of an all-Canadian officiating crew led by Orléans resident and former Gloucester Hornet Carol-Anne Chenard.

Carol Anne Chenard is a former Gloucester Hornet and Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club member who is now an international soccer referee. Getty Images

Chenard's Olympic Trail began in 1992, when, as a 15-year-old dual sport athlete -- she was a national level short track speedskater with the Gloucester Concordes, as well as a competitive soccer player -- she decided to make the switch from playing soccer to refereeing it.

Over the next two years she took officiating courses and progressively got better until one day she caught the eye of someone (she's not sure who) while refereeing a men's league game.

"He wrote to the association and said that someone should come out and watch me, which led to my getting recommended to the Ontario Soccer Association," says Chenard, whose first big break came when she moved to Montreal in 2001 to attend McGill University.

"The Quebec provincial association was a great supporter of my refereeing while I was at McGill. There the ones who nominated me to the national program which got me ready for the international program."

Chenard went from refereeing men's league games and senior women's soccer to North American Soccer League games featuring the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver White Caps before they gained entry to the MSL.

She eventually became a nationally certified referee in 2005, and a year later was nominated to the international pool of referees that are chosen to officiate internationally friendly matches and tournaments.

Her first international match was a "friendly" between Canada and Italy in 2006.

"I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Your first game at any level can be a bit nerve-racking," says Chenard, whose career took a meteoric course after that first game.

She refereed at both the 2008 and 2010 under-20 women's World Cups in Chile and Germany, including the final of the latter. And she was chosen to officiate one of the semifinals at the Women's World Cup of Soccer in 2011.

A year later, she was chosen to referee at the 2012 Summer Olympics in Great Britain. She did two Group Stage games in Cardiff and London but had to sit out the playoffs because two CONCACAF teams, Canada and the USA, played each other in the semi-final and one of them would end up going through to the final.

FIFA rules strictly prohibit a referee from officiating a game involving teams from their own federation.

Carol Anne Chenard (middle) with her assistant referees Marie-Josée Charboneau and Suzanne Morriset in front of the Olympic rings on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Photo courtesy of Carol Anne Chenard

Skip ahead to Rio and Chenard was once again chosen to officiate the women's soccer tournament along with her assistants Marie-Josée Charbonneau and Suzanne Morisset.

Unlike the London Olympics where she had to watch the opening ceremonies on a television, Chenard was able to witness the opening ceremonies in Rio in person.

"It was really phenomenal to be there with all the emotion and to see all the athletes walking in and be so close to the energy in a huge stadium like the Maracana," says Chenard. "The energy level and the atmosphere was off the charts."

The energy level was even higher in the Maracana when Chenard officiated Brazil's opening game against China.

Her second assignment was Brazil's quarterfinal game in the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte in front of 52,000 crazy, screaming fans. She then had to wait for the outcome of the Canada's semifinal game against Germany to see if she would be officiating the gold medal match or the bronze medal game. (The USA had already been knocked out of medal contention by Sweden.) As fate would have it Canada lost and Chenard got the call to referee the final between Sweden and Germany in the Maracana.

Asked if she would have preferred refereeing the bronze medal game if it meant Canada would have competed for the gold medal, Chenard gave the objective answer.

"You can never worry about things you can't control. If Canada had of won I would have been fine with doing the bronze medal game, but they lost and I got to do the final," says Chenard.

As for the final itself, Chenard was happy with how it played out and with her own performance and that of her Canadian assistants.

"I was really excited to get the game and to have it played in the Maracanaa in front of 57,000 people. It was a really clean game between two excellent teams and I was very satisfied with our (officiating) team's performance," says Chenard, who returned to her job at Health Canada on Monday.

As for the future, the 39-year-old Chenard plans to stick around for the 2019 World Cup in France. Whether or not she will be on the pitch at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, only time will tell.

In the meantime, she has some advice for young soccer players thinking of becoming referees, those who are already referees, and minor soccer's governing bodies.

"It's not an easy job. In many ways refereeing a local soccer game in front of opposing coaches and parents is a lot more stressful than refereeing a game in front of 57,000 people booing you during the game. Local games can get a lot more personal. My best advice is to have a support group of people you can go to, whether it's fellow referees, or a mentor, who understand what you are going through," says Chenard, who has a message for local soccer organizations as well.

"We need to do a better job to make sure referees feel supported in that manner. All the associations should be brainstorming so that incoming referees can officiate free from abuse and stay in the game longer and enjoy the sport."

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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