Leagues Serviced Over the Years

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

Leagues

In its nearly 75 years of existence, the MFOA has provided officiating services to numerous leagues.

Senior/Intermediate

In the 1950’s and 60’s, the MFOA provided officials to the now defunct Intermediate and Senior Leagues, comprised of such teams as the St. Vital Bulldogs, St. James Rams, Elmwood and Steinbach Landmark Dutchmen.

A Senior team known as the Winnipeg Mustangs, composed of former Junior and University players, played exhibition games against the local Junior teams, the University of Manitoba Bison football team and University teams from North Dakota, increasing the opportunity for officials to work games at this level.

In 2004, a Senior league was started with the Winnipeg Mustangs, St. James Rods, and St. Vital Bulldogs. The teams from St. James and St. Vital folded and were replaced by teams from Transcona and Brandon.

An Intermediate league, the Country Football League, aka “CFL”, provided many interesting and exciting games and post game action. Played at rural locations with cars surrounding the fields, officials often had to dodge debris when fans objected to calls and flee in their cars at the end of the game for safety. Needless to say, MFOA services soon ceased in response to these actions.

Junior

The 1970’s saw a five-team Juvenile league utilize crews of five officials from the MFOA. This league became the Manitoba Junior League, comprised of the St. James Rods, Fort Garry Lions, Winnipeg Hawkeyes, Transcona Nationals and St. Vital Mustangs. Transcona, Fort Garry and St. James then ceased operation.

Prior to the formation of the Manitoba Junior Football League, the MFOA provided officials for home games of the two Winnipeg entries (St. James Rods and Weston Wildcats) in the Manitoba - Saskatchewan league.

The Manitoba – Saskatchewan league folded when the Manitoba Junior league was formed. The Saskatchewan teams joined Albertan teams to form the Prairie Junior League. During its final years, the St. James Rods, Canadian Junior Champions in 1961 (Manitoba’s only) gained recognition for the most consecutive losses by a football team in North America. MFOA official Bernie Novak stated he would retire before St James won a game. Bernie officiated in the game St. James finally won. While St. James has since folded, Bernie is still timekeeping with the MFOA.

Thunder Bay joined the Junior league in 1984, with MFOA officials helping train Thunder Bay officials in their inaugural season. Two officials from the MFOA traveled with Winnipeg teams to Thunder Bay.

Both the Junior and University leagues increased their crews from 5 to 6 officials in the late 1980’s. In 2006, with the support of the CFL, the University league increased the crew size to seven officials and the junior league followed suit (funded by CFL in 2007).

University

The Western Canada University League, up to 1989, used 5 officials and used 6 officials from 1989 to 2006 supplied by the MFOA to work University of Manitoba home games. In 2006, the crew used increased to 7 on-field officials. In addition, the MFOA supplies a yardstick crew including lonesome pole, two ball boys and three timekeepers for each game. There has been a CIS traveling exchange of officials in which the MFOA sends officials to other Universities and hosts officials from other cities for games here in Winnipeg.

High School

The reason for the formation of an officials association arose out the need to supply officials for junior and high school games. The source of officials from the early thirties to the fifties was often from pro players who gave back to the community. Players like Cliff Rosebourgh, who founded the Manitoba Officials Association in 1936, and later the likes of Andy Currie, Jim Foubister and others who founded the Manitoba Football Officials Association (1951), left the Bomber practice field at Canada Packers to officiate games.

As the High League grew, games were officiated at local school fields, the old Winnipeg Baseball Stadium (where the Blue Gold – Sun Room and practice area for the Bombers once stood at CanadInns Stadium), the Velodrome cycling track built for the 1967 Pam-Am games (now home to Chapters and Montana’s, across Empress from the now-removed Winnipeg Arena), CanadInns Stadium (formerly called Winnipeg Stadium), or at the East Side Eagles complex. Today, the Winnipeg High School Football League has more than 30 teams playing in three divisions - Vidruk, Currie and Potter. The divisions provide opportunities for schools of the same caliber to play against each other. Three teams from the northwestern Ontario cities of Kenora, Dryden and Fort Francis also compete in the league

The MFOA provides the Jim Foubister award to an outstanding, graduating high school football player as chosen by the Winnipeg High School Football League. The award is presented at the annual high school awards ceremony. The award is named in recognition of Jim’s outstanding football contributions as a player and official at both the amateur and professional levels and his coaching at the High School level.

MFOA officials have worked games in Brandon, Dauphin, Neepawa, McGregor, Moosomin, Warren, Teulon, Stonewall, Swan River, and Virden for the Rural High School nine man league.

The MFOA also provides services to the Senior Bowl for graduating High School and Midget players. At one time, in cooperation with the Winnipeg High School Football League’s charity fundraiser called the “Red Feather Games” in October, the MFOA donated its services.


Midget/Major

The Bantam (now Midget) football league increased its officiating crew from 3 to 4 and then 5 officials. Unfortunately, the Midget League folded following the 2018 season. The Major (formerly called Midget) football league increased its officiating crews from 4 to 5 officials and tried 6 during the 1990 season.

Intramurals

Crews of two officials worked Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon games in the University of Winnipeg intramural 6 and 9 man leagues at the old St. Paul’s College ground (now the National Research Council buildings) at Ellice and Edmonton.

Youth Leagues

The MFOA has provided clinics for young officials of the Parks and Recreation league (early 1960’s) and MFOA officials have worked as officiating supervisors (Bud Ulrich, Jerry Sobie, Ken Lazaruk).

The Winnipeg Affiliated Football league succeeded the Winnipeg Parks and Recreation program, providing the opportunity for children between the ages of 9 and 14 to play football.

The MFOA’s services were used in 1986 and 1987. This brought many officials into the MFOA. The WAFL later amalgamated with the Pop Warner league using its volunteer officials until 1991, when the MFOA’s services were once more requested.

In 2004 the MFOA could not handle the number of games played by this organization and the other leagues its serviced. In 2004, the MFOA encouraged the formation of the Manitoba Football Referees Association to provide services for the Manitoba Minor Football league. The MFOA provide training for the MFRA officials. In 2006, the MFOA provided limited game supervision of league games and supervised all final games. In 2007, a working agreement was made to provide the opportunity for selected Level 2 MFRA officials to work a limited number of High School, Midget and Major games. In return the MFOA would supply two officials (Referee and Umpire/sideline official) and a game observer for selected Bantam, Minor Bantam and Pee Wee Games.

Provincial Teams

The MFOA donates its services annually in May for the Blue Gold games - once the Blue Bomber Development Camp for High School and Midget players, now the Provincial team try outs (1990 until now). The MFOA also sends officials to the annual Canada Cup and works the Red River Cup tournament in Manitoba.

Western Women's Canadian Football League (WWCFL)

Since the Manitoba Fearless (later to be joined by the Winnipeg Wolfpack) joined the WWCFL, the MFOA has been officiating senior women's football in the province. The Fearless and Wolfpack currently play their regular season games against the two teams from Saskatchewan: the Regina Riot and the Saskatoon Valkyries.

Flag Football

In 2021, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the MFOA began officiating flag football in addition to tackle. Initially officiating games with the Pro Prep Academy, the MFOA subsequently began working with Football Manitoba to officiate the U18 division of its flag football league both outdoor in the spring and indoor at the University of Winnipeg soccer complex in the winter.