History of the MFOA

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As Prepared By Ron Hallock (December 2013) [last edited June 2023]


The Manitoba Officials Association (MOA)

The Manitoba Officials Association, from 1934 to 1950, provided service to the high school and Junior teams in Winnipeg. This organization was the forerunner of the Manitoba Football Officials Association (MFOA). The MOA was founded by Cliff  Roseborough, who served as the MOA President on five occasions between 1934 and 1950. Bert Warwick served as Honorary President.

Manitoba Football Officials Association (MFOA)

The MFOA came into being in 1951. The membership included 8 officials: Andy Currie, Glen Currie, Cliff Rosebourgh, Bill Nairn, Bill Ceretti, Andy Bieber, Bud Irving and Jim Foubister.

Jim Foubister remained an active member as an on field official and then timekeeper for 54 years (retiring in 2005). He holds the record for longevity as an active member in the MFOA.

MFOA Organizational Structure

A review of the MFOA minutes indicates the organization was conceived in 1951. The structure of the MFOA can be charted by changes to its constitution. There have been eight revisions since the first constitution was accepted on June 23, 1953. The following is a brief review of the changes in the executive structure, membership and classification of officials.

MFOA Executive Structure

The original executive consisted of the Past President, President, Vice President, Treasurer, and one Member-at-Large. In addition, an Honorary President was elected whose duty was to preside over the election of the new executive. In 1984 the position of Honorary President was dropped.

At least 4 members of the executive were required to have “Level 4” qualifications (new classification system introduced in 1976). The 1992 Constitution revision deleted this restriction.

The President

The leadership position of the MFOA from its inception has had various qualification requirements attached to it. Initially the President was required to have “A” officials qualifications (described in Classification of Officials).

Vice Presidents

In 1981, a second Vice President was added and the Honorary President position was dropped. The second Vice President's responsibilities included recruitment and training and evaluation.

Assignment Secretary

In 1960, a person was appointed to make appointments under the supervision of the Referee-in-Chief. This individual was paid an honorarium of $100. The Assignment secretary served as the recording secretary as well, recording minutes at all meetings. The Assignment Secretary carried out these duties until 1973, when the duties were split and the position of Recording Secretary was introduced. The Assignment Secretary position has evolved from a paper and pencil schedule to a highly sophisticated computerized information system which allows officials to track their crew and individual assignments.

Recording Secretary

The Recording secretary assumed the duties of taking minutes of all MFOA meetings and was responsible for the production of a newsletter sent to the MFOA membership.

Executive and Appointed Positions


The first appointed position was created in 1951 and was called the Referee-in-Chief.  The person occupying this position was responsible for rule interpretations.

In 1960, the Referee-in-Chief was given responsibility for the supervision of officials and development (referred to as schooling) of officials in all categories. Referee-in-Chief Bud Irving assumed the duty of supervision of category “A” officials and assigned Al Dryburgh to supervise category “B” officials and George Eakin to supervise the Category “C” officials. These duties have since been assigned to the VP Evaluation and Performance Assessment and the Chief Evaluator.

The Referee-in-Chief had and still has the duty of  reporting disqualifications of players to their league executive.

Conference Chairperson

The MFOA has been awarded the opportunity to host the CFOA Conference and General Meeting on three occasions. The MFOA executive appoints the chairperson of the organizing committee for this event.


From 1951 to 1975 there were two elected members-at-large. The first MAL was responsible for social events. The second MAL was to help deal with equipment and was given the title of Equipment Manager. In 1982, a third MAL was added to help with the social aspect. In 2004, constitutional changes were made in the titles of executive positions and redefining duties for the executive members. Three member-at-large duties were assigned. In 2007, a constitution change defined the Member-at-Large duties as: MAL-Social, MAL-Fundraising and MAL-Equipment.



Prior to 1976, new recruits were required to be a minimum of 21 years old and be sponsored by three A and/or B level officials. Acceptance into the MFOA was determined by approval of the majority of Level A and B officials voting at a meeting at which the recruits were not present. Recruits were assessed as to former playing or coaching experience, known interest in the game from a rules standpoint, personality and appearance. Accepted recruits became Level “C”  officials without voting privileges.

In 1976, new recruits were enrolled by members submitting names of recruits to the Referee-in-Chief. New recruits were required to be a minimum of 18 years old prior to the football season, attend a rookie clinic and successfully complete an examination. Successful recruits became Level “1” first year officials.

In 1984, recruiting, training and developments became the responsibility of the Second Vice President. Requirements to become a Level "1" first year official remained the same until 1990, when new officials were required to complete the Canadian Football Officials Certification Program (CFOCP).

In 1991, the age requirement was removed to accommodate the inclusion of officials from the Pop Warner Affiliated Football Association as members of the MFOA.

A 1992 Constitution revision required new officials to demonstrate within 2 years to the Evaluation Committee that they can officiate satisfactorily, or they would be asked to withdraw from the MFOA. This change meant that a new official can remain at the Level 1 level and need not progress to the next level to remain in the Association.

Membership Numbers

The MFOA started out with eight founding members: Andrew Currie, Glen Currie, Cliff Rosebourgh, Bill Nairn, Bill Cerretti, Andy Bieber, Bud Irving and Jim Foubister.

The Association at one point was gaining more members than it could provide sufficient games for. In 1959, the Referee-in-Chief made a motion to limit membership to 25 officials.

As football grew in popularity over the years an actual shortage of officials developed from time to time. Today, the MFOA average membership is between 45 and 50 on-field officials, 10 timekeepers, and 3 evaluators. Each year there is an average of 4 to 6 new recruits joining the MFOA and 2 to 4 officials leaving,

Voting Privileges

Officials in their first year of officiating had no voting privileges until 1982, when Level 1 officials acquired the right to vote on financial matters only.

From 1984, Honorary Members and Life Members had no voting privileges nor could they hold any elected office. In 1994, a motion was put forth by Johnson/Ewatski “that Life members may hold elected office. They can vote on all matters pertaining to the Association except those that are financial matters”. This motion was carried. The rationale for not allowing Life Members to vote on financial matters was that they paid no dues to the Association.

Types of Membership

There  are four types of membership in the MFOA:

Active Members:       All field officials appointed to officiate amateur games.

Associate Members:   Resident Manitoba officials who officiate Canadian Football League games, and timekeepers appointed by MFOA.

Life Members:            Granted this recognition by the membership for outstanding contributions to the Association while a member.

Honorary Members:  Granted to persons whose interest in amateur football and its rules warrant their inclusion in the MFOA.

Classification of Officials

Originally, a three group system was established. Group “A” were officials capable of working any field position in all games other than the CFL. Group “B” officials were capable of working any field position except that of Referee in all games other than the CFL. Group “C” officials consisted of all other officials in the MFOA.

Later, a fourth group known as “AA” was added. This group consisted of officials who worked a minimum of two seasons in the CFL.

In 1976, By-Law 100 was introduced by President Bud Ulrich, creating a five level system for official classification. Outlined were the requirements for promotion to the next level and the leagues each level official could officiate and/or referee. This by-law underwent revisions in 1984, 1987, 1989, and 1990.

In 1984, a specific exam mark requirement for level “2” was replaced with a requirement for successful completion of the annual rules exam. Changes in 1987 replaced a specific requirement for Levels 3 to 5 with successful completion of the rules exam and a demonstrated ability to administer the rules. In 1989, Level “1” officials were required to complete the Level 1 National Certification Program. In 1990, the national certification requirement was extended to levels 2,3 and 4 (and level 5, when available)

In addition to the above, progression to levels 3,4 and 5 required a minimum of 3, 4 and 5 years' experience respectively.

After the 1992 General Meeting, By–Law 100 and all references to the MFOA classification system were deleted and replaced by the classifications of the Canadian Football Officials Certification Program (changed in 2006 to Football Canada Officials Certification Program).

Ratings and Evaluation Committee

From the inception of the MFOA, a Ratings Committee guided by the original classification system (and later By–law 100) determined whether an official was promoted to the next level. Officiating positions and leagues worked were also determined using these guidelines.

Since the acceptance of the National Certification program eliminated the need to classify officials according to levels, the Ratings Committee was renamed the Evaluation Committee. The duty of the evaluation committee is to identify the nature of all game assignments to which officials shall be appointed. In addition, this Committee considers the performance of all first and second year officials and decides if they can officiate satisfactorily.

Promotion to the Next Level

Officials proceed from one level to the next by taking the appropriate national Certification Program. Each level consists of classroom and on-field instruction, written examinations, and on-field evaluations by certified course conductors.