Orillia's Brad Doubrough has gone from officiating local house league soccier games for some extra cash, to building an impressive resume and being trained by some of the International Federation of Association Football’s (FIFA) top referees.
The former Park Street Collegiate Institute soccer player started refereeing local games whe he was just 13-years old. Doubrough was commonly found at local pitches playing both house league and competitively, so he figured he might as well learn how to referee as well.
“It was really just a few pocket bucks for me, but from there it just kept growing and growing and it turned into my passion,” said the now 25-year-old.
For the past three years, Doubrough has been working toward getting his provincial status which allows him to officiate provincial level games in League1 Ontario as well as college and university level games.
Doubrough also got to do some work with the national program this year as well.
It has not come easy. There have been many sacrifices along the way.
“It’s a lot of late nights, early mornings, missing out on family gatherings and friend get togethers,” Doubrough said.
Doubrough also had to sacrifice one of his favourite things to become a high-level soccer referee: he had to give up playing sports.
“I used to play everything, but once I started taking refereeing more seriously it was kind of frowned upon for me to continue to play sports because of the risk of injury and during the summer I don’t really have the time to commit,” he explained.
The challenge became even more difficult to handle for Doubrough when he attended the sports management program at Brock University.
“Going into it, I always saw myself playing sports at a university level, so I was faced with the decision of do I want to referee OUA (Ontario University Athletics) games or do I want to try to make the university soccer team and go from there," Doubrough explained. "I decided to stick with the refereeing route and I’m very happy with that decision, but I always think of what if.”
Sticking with refereeing seems to have paid off for Doubrough as he was recently selected as one of three referees from Canada to attend a CONCACAF FIFA international training camp this past August.
“I got world-class training from some of the top instructors and it was absolutely incredible. There were FIFA referees and FIFA instructors who are looking for the next crop of referees,” Doubrough said.
As part of the camp, Doubrough trained in Florida and officiated in the CONCACAF boys' under-15 championship tournament
“That was such a cool experience, I refereed a game that was Antigua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To be a part of an international tournament is completely surreal to me,” Doubrough said.
Doubrough says that being selected to the development camp was a career-altering moment for him.
“It’s almost hard to put into words, from that experience to where I am today is night and day, and it took me to a new level with a new appreciation for the game, and new insights," he said. "It helped me learn how to deal with everyday problems even outside of soccer.”
Doubrough keeps adding to his impressive resume. He officiated in his first professional game this season which featured Toronto FC II of the United Soccer League and he worked as an assistant referee for the New Canadian Premier League.
Doubrough says all the success is thanks to all the people who have supported him and taught him along the way, as well as growing thick skin and a drive to train at a high level.
“You have to have thick skin, between the players, the parents and even some of the people who are making you better, it takes a lot of knowing what you are working towards and ignoring some of the people who may or may not know what they are talking about and just focus on what you need to do,” he said.
Doubrough trains a minimum three times a week depending on the time of year.
“If you’re not fit to get into the right position on the field, you don’t stand a chance to make the right call,” he explains.
Doubrough has refereed all over Ontario, he has been as far as Newfoundland and Florida and he hopes to continue to improve and, one day, get a shot to referee on the world stage.
“The World Cup is definitely a goal; the timeline I don’t know but I will just keep working until I find out that I can’t,” he said.
Making a career out of refereeing would be something Doubrough would love to do. However, he understands that only the top point-one percent have the privilege to make enough to live off of officiating soccer games.
Right now he is focusing on the next challenge and the next game that is on his busy schedule.