Carly Shaw-MacLaren continues her rise to refereeing prominence

Carly Shaw-MacLaren continues her rise to refereeing prominence

If you’re a female soccer player in British Columbia, you’ve been spoiled by provincial role models.  From Andrea Neil and Christine Sinclair, to the current dynamic young crop that includes Jordyn Huitema, there has been no shortage of inspiration from BC women who went on to represent their Country at the highest level.     

If you’re a female referee in BC, the list is not quite as long…but that might be changing. Highly respected Michelle Pye from Kamloops became a FIFA international referee in 2007 and is now a FIFA instructor.  More recently, a fresh face has emerged on the BC Officiating scene and she seems destined to follow in Pye’s footsteps. 

Carly Shaw-MacLaren was playing soccer as early as 4 years old but started getting the bug for officiating after taking the small sided course at age 12.  She says she was fortunate to have PGYSA’s (Prince George Youth Soccer Association’s) Gaetano Mauro encouraging both herself and Alain Ruch to continue through BC’s referee development pathway. 

The Prince George product was playing on decent teams, some of which were good enough to compete for Provincial Cups.  Little did the teenager know, that she would be refereeing those same tournaments in short order.  Clinic by clinic, game over game, the 15-year-old Shaw-MacLaren was suddenly finding herself at A-Cup and BC Summer games tournaments.  One of her memorable earlier assignments was a Provincial Tournament in 100 Mile House, where her Grandparents lived.   

“Me and my mom always laugh about that, and how she called my grandparents to stay at their place so I could referee in this tournament which was being held just down the street from their house.  That’s where it all kind of started for me.”

As an 18-year-old, Carly stepped away from playing to concentrate solely on refereeing. It was during this time that she would meet another highly respected Canadian referee while on Provincial Cup assignment.

Carol Anne Chenard attended that 2013 tournament having been an International referee for 8 years with World Cups and USL Men’s matches under her belt.  Beyond just her wealth of experience and knowledge, Chenard was only too happy to act as a mentor for all the officials at that tournament: 

“She (Carol Anne) and Marie-Josee Charbonneau did a presentation for us on their experience at the 2012 Olympics, and that was an “a-ha” moment for me, seeing the opportunities female referees were getting.”

Not long after, Carly Shaw MacLaren was being assigned to National events.  BC Soccer’s Referee Development Coordinator Jose Branco was not the least bit surprised by the increase in Carly’s match assignments:   

“Carly is exactly what we are looking for in the Modern Referee. Great athlete with speed and strong physical capacity and has played the game at a good level which helps in the areas of Player/Team management, understanding team tactics and reading the game.”

More recently, the U-Vic Kinesiology student had the opportunity to attend Concacaf’s Program of Referee Excellence in Mexico, where she learned how “excellence” was being defined by the regional Governing Body’s.  Of equal importance was being exposed to different viewpoints among the fraternity and the feeling of camaraderie from the multi-national contingent:

“We were with these people for so long and they really created a family feeling amongst our referees. It was a great experience to learn so many different cultures.”

From that program in Mexico, Carly went on to Florida where she was assigned several matches at the Concacaf U20 Men’s qualification tournament, including refereeing the match between St Martin vs Grenada, where admittedly there were nerves given what was on the line for both nations:

“It was pretty surreal to think that teams were going to the World Cup from this tournament and I was quite happy with my performance. There is always stuff to improve on and it was great to learn from some of Concacaf’s top instructors and assessors”. 

As for the future, Carly’s long-term goal is to referee in a World Cup and be assigned the final, something she could clearly visualize after walking onto the famous pitch at Azteca Stadium during the Mexican camp.  When asked which venue she would most like to walk into with her refereeing team, Carly provided a very “home-grown” answer:

“Refereeing at BC Place would be really cool being from British Columbia, and hopefully with the CPL coming, I can get more experience officiating men’s games to get to that next level.”

Asked why other young women should take up refereeing, Shaw-McLaren offered a very pragmatic response:

“When I was younger, getting paid for running around on weekends was great.  Now, all my really good friends are referees and for me, you can only play the game for so long.  But with refereeing you’re still on the field and you can keep doing it for as long as you want.”

The FIFA hopeful will continue to learn and evolve but it’s not a stretch to think that one day Carly Shaw-MacLaren will continue in Michelle Pye and Carol Anne Chenard’s footsteps; referees dedicated to the role who then became role models.

About BC Soccer

BC Soccer is the provincial sport governing body with the mission to govern, promote and develop the game of soccer in British Columbia in a professional and progressive manner. Established in 1907, BC Soccer is the largest provincial sport organization (PSO) in BC and the third largest soccer specific PSO in Canada with over 150,000 participants.  As a professional not-for-profit society and a member of Canada Soccer, BC Soccer is committed to providing the widest opportunities for existing and potential participants, as well as provide support in the most effective and appropriate way for current players, parents, volunteers, member clubs, leagues and districts.

BC Soccer is comprised of more than 120,000 registered players, over 2,200 registered referees, and thousands of volunteer coaches, administrators and soccer leaders. Working with its 40 member Youth Districts and 11 Adult Leagues as well as their affiliate member clubs, BC Soccer operates under the guiding principles of Professional Leadership, Passionate Service and Progressive Collaboration. In managing its relationships throughout the larger soccer community, BC Soccer’s vision is to ensure every British Columbian has the opportunity to be involved in soccer as part of a lifelong commitment to active, health and involved lifestyle.