Thomas Davies has done something unprecedented in Chilliwack youth soccer history, netting a scholarship from the B.C. Soccer Association.
The 17-year-old Chilliwack secondary school student received the Pacific Coast Soccer League scholarship at the BCSA annual general meeting on Saturday, one of 11 given out this year.
Davies, who has played youth soccer for 11 years and refereed for five, submitted his application in March. A scholarship committee looked at the applications.
“I’m guessing what really helped with this was the refereeing because I officiate at a relatively high level in the province,” Davies explained. “I referee up to the university level and I do Premier Development League games, which is the same league the Vancouver Whitecap reserves play in. And I’ve done PCSL games for the last three years, which is probably why I got the PCSL scholarship.”
Young referees should take note. Chilliwack FC is constantly trying to find and retain new officials. Seeing Davies turn refereeing into a scholarship may provide youngsters with the motivation to tough it out in what can often be a difficult job with high attrition rates.
“Refereeing has always interested me more than playing and when I was eight or nine years old I was counting off the years until I could start to do it,” Davies said. “We’re all a little bit crazy in a way to be doing the job, but I’ve always wanted to do it. In my first year doing full-field refereeing I was very fortunate to work with a national official three times in the first month. He put me on the right track and from that I’ve really learned to enjoy it.”
Davies is the first to admit the job has its bad days, when coaches and players are offering ‘critiques’ at every turn. But it is the unseen side of refereeing that he wishes every young official could experience and embrace.
“The dressing room conversations, the camaraderie and the sharing of experiences is something that is so enjoyable,” he explained. “In some ways it’s similar to playing on a team, but it’s also really different because of the type of people who do it.”
As a player, Davies has played up to the U-18 gold level as a goalkeeper. His team is travelling to Penticton in early July to play in provincials.
Another factor for Davies was volunteer work and community involvement.
Originally from England, the teen moved to the Fraser Valley in 1998.
He has spent significant time working at Ruth and Naomi’s Mission and he’s pitched in with the Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition as well.
And while it may have little to do with soccer, Davies also feels his time spent with the CSS music department played a role in the scholarship committee’s decision.
“I’m in six performing ensembles, and we average 50 to 60 community performances per year,” he said. “Beyond that, I also volunteer with guest services at the new Chilliwack Cultural Centre.”
The scholarship is worth $1,200, equivalent to approximately half a semester’s tuition. In his first year he will study business at the University of the Fraser Valley, with the possibility of a future transfer to either Simon Fraser University or the University of British Columbia.
Davies may apply the money directly to tuition costs, or he may use it to offset expenses as he continues his referee training.
“I’ll be travelling to Burnaby twice a week (for referee training), so of course I’ve got mileage and gas and all that,” he said. “And there will be additional university expenses as well, so this money will be very useful.”
Get a full list of scholarship recipients at www.bcsoccer.net.