The 2023 season was filled with memorable moments, incredible plays and outstanding team victories. Players reached new personal highs and fans were treated to thrilling comebacks, high scoring games and plenty of on field drama.
None of these moments and memories are possible without a group of individuals who are often taken for granted…the officials. Game in and game out, they lace them up just like the players and arguably are more important than any other personnel that hit the sidelines. Without officials, the games aren’t played.
Where players, coaches and staff on the field celebrate milestones, so too do the officials and 2023 was no different will several memorable moments.
Tracy Paluzzi (pictured) worked her first game as a head referee on July 29th in a game between the Langley Rams and Valley Huskers in the BC Conference. In doing so, she made history becoming the first woman to referee a game in that Conference within the CJFL. She did such a great job, she worked three additional games in BC on August 19th, 26th and October 14th.
She follows in the footsteps of Sharon Airey who became the first female head referee in a CJFL game on September 24, 2022 when she worked the Edmonton Huskies-Edmonton Wildcats crosstown rivalry tilt. Sharon worked her second CJFL game on September 17, 2023 when the Wildcats hosted the Saskatoon Hilltops. She has been an official in the Prairie Conference since 2017 and has been assigned to multiple regular season games, playoff match-ups and was on the field during the 2022 Canadian Bowl in Regina.
In addition to these incredible talents, Emily Clarke worked as the head referee on August 20, 2023, and was one of three CFL officials who worked as a referee in the Prairie Conference this past season as part of a pilot program for the development of officials in the referee position. She and Quebec’s Georgina Paul are the first two females to ever work a CFL game which took place in 2019.
Every football level and league across the country is looking for committed people to become an official. You can travel the province, the country and even the world being involved as a referee in football and get paid while doing it. Find out all the perks through Football Canada’s “Become an Official” program. Click HERE for more information.