Meet Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, the first Nova Scotia woman to referee at a FIFA World Cup.

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin is the first Nova Scotia woman to be appointed to referee the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin is the first Nova Scotia woman to be appointed to referee the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Handout/Marie-Soleil Beaudoin.

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin is already starting preparations to referee the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

She’s the first and only Nova Scotia woman authorized by FIFA to referee that level of soccer.

And this won’t be her first World Cup, as Beaudoin was previously appointed to referee the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.

She says it’s an honour.

“Whenever FIFA puts your name on any list, because there are so many referees in the world, it’s always a huge honour.

“It gives me the opportunity to represent not only my country but also my province, which is Nova Scotia now.”

Beaudoin grew up in Quebec City, where she started playing soccer when she was five years old.

“I don’t think any 12-year-old girl dreams of being a referee. … I grew up playing soccer and at some point, I got into refereeing because it was just another way for me to remain active in a sport that I really loved.”

Beaudoin says her favourite part about her career is the challenge.

“Refereeing is never easy, so it never becomes boring,” she said.

“Every game is a new challenge and we never know what’s going to happen in the game, so it makes it kind of exciting.”

Beaudoin also says the community in soccer is important.

“The referee community is really kind of a tight-knit, very supportive community. And that’s true in Nova Scotia, that’s true in Canada, and that’s true internationally.”

Beaudoin got into refereeing when she was 20, and later got her FIFA-certified badge in 2014, which allowed her to referee internationally.

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As she travelled and practised, the World Cup seemed like a realistic goal.

“The World Cup in soccer is the pinnacle of the sport.”

She says she was lucky to have a successful tournament in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

“So now it’s the second time around and trying to reach that goal again, and keep improving as a person and as a referee throughout this process.”

Beaudoin says the real challenge starts now as the nearly three-year cycle of preparation begins.

“it’s a lot of hard work ahead but I mean, in life, I kind of appreciate challenges in general, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The challenge, she said, is between now and the start of the Women’s World Cup.

Beaudoin is an elite athlete and trains seven days a week, much like an Olympics athlete or referee.

On top of that, FIFA organizes courses and meetings for all the potential referees where they are tested on laws of the game, on fitness and in tournaments.

All candidates will be appointed to referee either the Under-17 World Cup or the Under-20 World Cup, coming up this year, when FIFA will get to see them in action.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues in Canada and across the world, this year’s tournaments are a bit uncertain. But Beaudoin says she’s excited to get back to the field and take FIFA’s opportunities when she can.

Before the pandemic, she would referee across the country in the Canadian Premier League. She also officiated the HFX Wanderer’s FC home opener in 2019.

Beaudoin says refereeing gave her more than just soccer skills.

“It’s been a really good school of life, where you learn sometimes the hard way, about standing up for yourself and being confident in your decisions and communicating with various types of people in situations that are very volatile, emotional.”

She says she hopes kids will see her on TV and want to know what refereeing is like.

“Even at the local level or the regional level, being a referee can really bring a lot to the girls and the boys that are basically brave enough to give this a try.”

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