Ontario Sport Network wraps up Officials’ Bursary Program supporting over 1900 officials across 19 sports in Ontario

December 7, 2022
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TORONTO, Ontario December 9, 2022 – Ontario Sport Network wraps up its distribution of funds for the Officials’ Bursary Program. This program launched in August 2022 and was the first of its kind, targeting the need and support of Officials across Ontario.

The OSN’s Officials Program, inclusive of an awareness campaign and bursary opportunity, aimed to address barriers that impacted the recruitment and retention of sport officials across the province. Consultation with the sector, set the tone to assess and address the needs of this group. Such consultation engaged 107 registered officials from 29 Provincial Sport Organizations and Multi-Sport Organizations, meeting a wide range of demographics. Results identified the top 2 barriers affecting recruitment and retention of Officials as harassment and financial constraints both from the point of view of expenses and wages.

With this valuable input the “No Ref, No Game” awareness campaign launched for 6 weeks attracting over 2100 officials to the bursary application and generating interest through 8M impressions, and over 34K users to the OSN website. The bursary acted as a reimbursement for courses, clinics, registration fees, uniforms, and equipment in the amount of 50% of total eligible expenses to a maximum of $500. With a subsidy pool of just over $275K, financial support was provided to over 1900 successful officials (new and current) spanning over 19 different sports across the province.

A conversation was started, and support for this group of the sector, was needed. With an evolving call to action, OSN was able to keep the conversation going after the application window for funding closed (due to capacity), providing users with a hub of information about Officials development in a variety of sports, promoting upcoming courses, clinics, and details to get started as an official.  

To be a sport official is to view the sport from angles that emphasize integrity, fairness and decisiveness in an environment that does not always exude the same values. The support, need and appreciation for officials throughout the sector is one that OSN will continue to be promoting going forward.

For more information regarding the Ontario Sport Network’s Officials Program visit www.ontariosportnetwork.ca/officials-program.