Four officials set to return for CFL's second officiating academy

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TORONTO — FBO-CFL-Officiating-Academy

Hassan Cohen, Romeo Kabongo, Anthony Williams and Vincent Williams will all be returning to the CFL's officiating academy.

The program, in its second year of operation, includes virtual and in-person sessions to develop the technical aspects of officiating. It also focuses on personal, emotional and mental well-being to prepare participants for a career in officiating.

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The academy starts with the CFL officiating training camp, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Cohen, a back judge from Nanaimo, B.C., Kabongo, a line judge from Airdrie, Alta., Anthony Williams. a side judge from Dartmouth, N.S., and Vincent Williams (no relation) a line judge from Halifax, all participated last year. Eric Gyebi and Kyle Mikulik, who both also took part in the academy in 2022, have been selected for CFL officiating crews this season as a line judge and umpire, respectively.

Program participants may be assigned to a CFL exhibition game, training camp scrimmages or in the CFL command centre in support of staff positions for league contests.

"The development of officials is synonymous with the development of the game," CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. "Amateur officials working in community recreational leagues help youth develop skills, creating a safe and competitive environment, and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle."

Added Brian Ramsay, executive director of the CFL Players' Association: "Skilled and trained officials allow our members to play exciting and safe CFL football. These individuals are necessary for the game to exist, and the Officiating Academy is an excellent way to provide high-level training for officials across the country at every level. The program's success is evident as we have now seen its members regularly on fields across Canada."

The first-time participants include: umpires Sharon Airey and Matt Spetter, both of Edmonton; Winnipeg's John Paul Chorney (umpire); Regina's Dan Fleischhaker (side judge); Eric LeBlanc, of Dieppe, N.B. (line judge); and Vancouver's Tim Louman-Gardiner (line judge).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press