It may be hard to believe with how popular soccer is in the Kivalliq, but when Paul Stroeder of Rankin Inlet steps onto the floor in Hay River this coming month he will become the first soccer referee from Nunavut to officiate at the Arctic Winter Games (AWG).
Stroeder is well-known in Rankin for the wonderful Rankin Wolves soccer program he has launched for the youth of the community, and he spends a great deal of time running almost every aspect of it.
When the Nunavut Soccer Association (NSA) approached him about applying to ref at the AWG, he couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
“We’ve had certified referees in Rankin for a couple of years now and the NSA thought it would be an opportunity for us to show the AWG people that we’re moving forward with refereeing in Nunavut,” said Stroeder.
“It gives us an opportunity to get our foot in the door and showcase that we’re on par with the other referees.
“Chad Graham and I applied for the AWG, but they only selected me to go.”
Stroeder said he had no idea there had never been a Nunavut soccer official referee at the AWG until the NSA’s Dawn Currie told him after he was selected.
He said being selected for the Games was a proud and humbling moment.
“Knowing I’m going to the AWG doesn’t put any kind of pressure on me because it’s all about going out there and being confident in what you can do.
“That’s the most important thing: that you’re confident and enjoy doing it, because it will just come natural to you after that.
“I’m looking forward to meeting other soccer officials to see how they continue to fine tune their skills every year; whether it’s through clinics or working higher-calibre tournaments to keep their skill level up there.”
Stroeder said he’s pretty excited and keen on officiating at the AWG.
He said he coached at the 2012 games in Whitehorse, Yukon, so he has an understanding of the competitiveness that goes on at the AWG.
“I’m looking forward to being on the official’s side now – getting to interact with the coaches, players and game officials – and to just get that experience.
“I want to bring consistency as a referee back to Rankin and be able to help the other officials know where we need to be, in so far as having the necessary criteria to be selected to the AWG, or any tournament they may ask us to go to for that matter.
“You have to be ready for it and also understand there’s a higher expectation that comes with it and if you’re willing to accept that and work towards it, it will help you become a better official in the future.”