A local official was the lone nominee, the lone recipient of an award, receiving public recognition for his service to the local officiating community.
Football referee Greg Remple picked up the Outstanding Official award at the 2021 Northwest Alberta Sport Excellence Awards back in early March.
Even though there was a lack of healthy competition for the award, it doesn’t mean the shine has worn off the winning penny.
“It means a lot. It’s a really nice thing to know people recognize and appreciate what you do,” Remple said. “In that regard, you’re honoured even to be nominated. I was nominated about four or five years ago and was not successful. To be nominated a second time was, in itself, a great honour.”
The head official of the Grande Prairie Football Officials Association also seemed to wonder how referees are perceived at minor football games and how that perception might have affected the nomination process.
“A lot of people are aware I was the only nominee this year and, in a way, it disappointed me, not because there weren’t people to compete against for the award, but the fact that you hope people didn’t neglect to nominate an official because they don’t realize the importance of officials.”
To be fair, it’s also possible COVID-19, and the essential cancellation of all local sports, might have played a hand in the lack of nominations in the category.
Remple has been tweeting the metal whistle on the local scene for more than three decades.
And even though the bones bark, rattle and hum a little more than they did in the younger days, Remple hasn’t considered hanging the whistle up for good just yet.
Though, to be fair, that day may come sooner than later.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a year where I thought ‘No, I don’t know if I’m going to do it this year.’ The last few years, because I am getting a little up there in age, I kind of wait from year to year to see how I feel physically,” Remple said. “Other than that, I look forward to it every year. I love being part of a sport. I’ve always really enjoyed football and the opportunity to play wasn’t there anymore so I thought to be involved, it’s a great opportunity to get out there and referee. I find it so much fun to be out on the field and be part of the game.”
And Remple enjoys a well-played game as much as the next person, especially when the score is close, the game itself well executed, the clock running down to zero and the klaxon at CKC Field about to bring the action to an end.
“It’s especially fun to be out there when it’s a tight game where it’s getting down to the last few minutes and the game is on the line and you’re part of what’s happening,” Remple said. “It’s not quite the same as being a player but just being part of it all, part of the excitement, it’s lots of fun.”
The Grande Prairie Football Officials Association wants to hire and train referees. At some point, the game and schedule will get back to its usual way and Remple wants more bodies ready to go when the game calls. The association has about nine or 10 officials, at least six more bodies are needed going forward.
When coronavirus gathering rules are eased or erased, the association will host a clinic by two highly-regarded officials from Calgary.
“A crisis isn’t really that bad of a word because we do need more (referees),” Remple said. “Some of us are getting up there (in age), where in a year or two, we won’t be able to be on the field anymore. A crisis maybe an accurate description of our need right for more officials.”
For more information in regards to officiating minor football email Remple at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (780) 538-2416.