History was made at McLeod Athletic Park when the Langley Rams took on the Valley Huskers in a recent weekend match-up, but it had nothing to do with the outcome of the game.
The British Columbia Football Conference, known as BCFC, made history when four women were invited to join the officiating team during the junior football match-up on Aug. 17 — the most ever in league history.
Desiree Abrams, 37, from Washington, D.C. and Tracy Paluzzi, 38, from Montreal, Que. were on the field to officiate the game as back judge and head linesman, respectively, while Karen Madill, 62, played the role of game observer and Langley local Brittany Anderson, 28, the time keeper.
“Women in football [are] pretty rare,” said Anderson, daughter of retired CFL official Carey Anderson. “I personally have never worked with another female official myself. This is the first year I had even had a woman on a crew with me.”
Anderson said she always followed the game, but never got involved herself until her early 20s.
“For me it’s all about staying involved in a sport that I grew up loving,” she said.
All four women have a long history with the sport that have helped them gain yards in their role as officials.
Today, Anderson is a community football official who works for the CFL as a game day ball co-ordinator and the spare 20-second clock operator and spare timekeeper at BC Lions games.
Madill, although retired from field work, holds an executive position with the local officials association and works as a game observer with the BCFC officiating department. Madill previously worked alongside Abrams and Paluzzi in 2017 at the World Women’s Championship.
“When I started it wasn’t as easy because now girls are involved in football more… it’s a co-ed acceptance,” said Madill.
Abrams is an assistant replay official for the NFL in Baltimore, Md. and also officiates in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, known as NCAA, an American college football tournament. In addition to working Sunday night’s match-up Abrams also officiated Saturday’s game between the Kamloops Broncos and VI Raiders in Nanaimo.
Anderson and Paluzzi both come from a family of officials. Paluzzi’s father is a retired university official and currently serves an as executive on the Canadian Football Officials Association.
“Overall in my experience it was definitely positive,” said Paluzzi, when entering the male dominated industry. “I don’t think I have experienced too many road blocks.”
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