Nova Scotia

Reffing for Women's World Cup 'dream of a lifetime' for N.S. woman

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin has been part of the soccer community all her life. Next month, she'll be heading to France to referee for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin will be heading to France next month for the soccer tournament

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin is the only Nova Scotia woman authorized by FIFA to referee soccer at the World Cup level. (Canadian Soccer Association)

A Halifax referee will be one of the 75 women officiating the 2019 Women's World Cup in France next month

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, 36, is the only Nova Scotia woman authorized by FIFA to referee that level of soccer, and one of three Canadian women who will be officiating in France.

She CBC's Information Morning that she's excited to get on the world stage.

"For a referee — just like for an athlete — to get to that level, it's a dream of a lifetime," she said.

"So, it might only happen once in my life."

The Women's World Cup takes place from June 7 to July 7.

A lifetime of soccer

Beaudoin, who was raised in Quebec, said she comes from a soccer family.

She, along with her two younger sisters, grew up playing soccer while their parents coached them.

She said she began coaching as soon as she was old enough, before moving on to refereeing.

"It's a combination of being at the right place at the right time, where people believe in you and then doing well on the pitch," said Beaudoin. 

"We also have fitness testing and then we have lots of game testing ... I guess I did well enough that people believed in me, and now I earned a trip to the World Cup."

She also referees for the new Canadian Premier League, which is the league the Halifax Wanderers play in.

Making the call

Beaudoin, a mother and a professor of physiology and biophysics at Dalhousie University, said she still finds the time to train every day.

"I consider myself as an elite athlete, just like any of the players that I referee on the pitch," she said. "Whether it's morning, mid-afternoon or at night after the baby has gone to bed, it's just part of the routine."

A large part of Beaudoin's training involves speed work. On the soccer field, she has to quickly get to the right spot to see what's happening.

She said the most difficult calls to make in her line of work are the ones she doesn't see, but this tournament will be the first Women's World Cup to make use of a video assistant referee.

The system, where assistant referees review decisions with the use of video footage, had been previously used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"If I don't see it, then you know it's not being called on the field," said Beaudoin.

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, third from the left, poses with referee Deleana Quan, Canadian women's national team captain Christine Sinclair, referees Katja Koroleva and Kathryn Nesbitt, and Brazilian women’s national team captain Marta Vieira da Silva, during a women's international friendly in Toronto in 2016. (Canadian Soccer Association)

"So [video assistant referees] kind of gets rid of those big mistakes, those big controversies in the sport. But I still think it's going to retain a human aspect and the passion that we all love about soccer."

Beaudoin said her experience as a female referee has been mostly positive.

"The main reaction I get, or I used to get, is surprise. When you walk into boys game or a men's game, they're kind of, 'Oh, surprise, she has a ponytail,'" she said.

"Once they realize that, whether I'm a man or woman, I still understand the game, make calls that are fair and communicate with the players respectfully, then they accept me just like they would accept any of my male colleagues."

Beaudoin said she will find out what games she'll be refereeing about 48 hours before the tournament begins.

With files from Information Morning Nova Scotia

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