There Ryan Freda was, running along the pitch at UBC’s Thunderbird Park, trying to keep his nerves and wits in check.
The student from Langley’s R.E. Mountain Secondary worked as the assistant referee for the Vancouver Whitecaps U15 residency team’s game against Santa Cruz late last month, and said he relished the pace of the game.
“Being engaged in the game the entire time is as draining as actually playing the game itself,” said 17-year-old Freda, an accomplished player in his own right.
“Knowing that my calls would and could define the outcome of the game meant full concentration and complete understanding of the rules.”
Freda started refereeing small-sided games for the Langley United Soccer Association when he was just 13.
He started with the younger age groups — U8 and under — and quickly moved up the referee ranks, working up to the U12 age group in only a couple of months. In the fall of 2017, Freda took the entry level course in order to referee older aged groups and divisions.
His skills and demeanor caught the attention of many coaches, as well as LUSA head referee, Rubin Smilev.
So when the Vancouver Whitecaps came looking for an assistant referee for their U15 residency team last month, Freda was on top of that list.
“He said, ‘Hey, you’ve got some actual ability (as an official) and you can go somewhere,’” Freda related, of his conversation with Smilev. “He said ‘I’d like you get in touch with the referee who assigns all the Whitecaps games.’ I’m like, ‘okay, sure.’”
Passion for the sport
Freda has been playing with Langley United since he was four years old.
He instantly fell in love with the sport and his passion for the game has grown tremendously over the years. Freda is so dedicated to the ‘beautiful game,’ that he spends his time in his backyard working diligently on dribbling, ball control, kicking and shooting.
Since age 11, Freda has played on LUSA select teams and he currently plays for the U18 metro squad as a centre back.
His soccer achievements to date include:
• LUSA Technical Department’s All-Star 11 Male Team: 2014, ‘16, and ‘17
• LUSA Most Promising Player: 2017
• Metro Select League Best Defender and Best Overall Player: 2016/2017 season.
Notable team achievements to date:
• 2013, B-Cup Bronze — B.C. championships;
• 2015, B-Cup Gold — B.C. championships; and
• 2017 – A-Cup Silver — B.C. championships.
Freda said officiating and playing are two totally different animals.
“You see the game from a completely different perspective,” Freda said. “When you’re playing, you’re so much more engaged about getting the ball; with refereeing, you’ve got to have a 360 (degree) view of what the players are doing and what the coaches are even doing.”
There are some commonalities in terms of pressure on the pitch, Freda said, but with one significant difference.
“Playing pressure is more like, if you make a mistake it can cost you a goal,” he elaborated. “I guess it’s the same for refereeing, but you don’t have 50 parents yelling at you if you make a mistake.”
“At LUSA, we are extremely proud of Ryan,” said LUSA’s director of communications Anne Fronteddu. “He will continue to referee within our club, and take all the opportunities given to him by B.C. Soccer.”