The first female QMJHL referee | Elizabeth Mantha breaks down a barrier

When Elizabeth Mantha’s name rose from the heights of the Russo Sports Center of Excellence ahead of the official game showdown between the Armada and the Husky on Saturday night, the crowd applauded. Even from above the press gallery, the official’s smile was noticeable. Thus, she became the first female QMJHL match referee.

Posted yesterday at 8:32 PM.

Catherine Harvey Benard

Catherine Harvey Benard
Journalism

Mantha was smiling candidly after the match, when Corteau’s refereeing director, Richard Trotier, entered the officials’ room to make his comments. Besides him, the other three officials were also smiling, seemingly happy with their new colleague.

Asked what went through her head when she heard the crowd cheering for her, Mantha let out a chuckle. “I don’t really like the attention…but it was a source of pride!” she says.

“It’s a little girl’s dream,” she continues. When I came to see my brother [Anthony Mantha] Playing, I never thought I would one day rule in this league. That’s why I try to pressure myself and tell myself it’s real. »

A leading position, Elizabeth Mantha already held before Saturday. As recently as October, she was among the first 10 women — referees and linemen — to join the Major League Soccer official roster. Since then it has patrolled in four matches in this circuit, the second largest on the continent.

“I was less nervous tonight,” she said before explaining. “But of course I was still a little nervous.”

But things went well. And her colleagues, seasoned officials like Olivier Gouin and Sylvain Losier, made her feel like “in the family.” “They relieved my tension before the match,” she says.

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Inspiration

There has been a lot of talk about Elizabeth Mantha over the past few months. Less than a week and a half ago, she was in Beijing for her first Olympics.

“It’s case after case that makes me say, ‘Oh my God, I wasn’t expecting this! “Of course there are a lot of emotions, sacrifices and time. I feel like my body is tired. At the same time I have a full-time job. I realize that and live it to the fullest. These are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Photo by Dominique Gravel, press

Asked what happened in her head when she heard the crowd cheering for her before throwing the disc into the middle of the ice, Mantha laughed: “I don’t like attention too much … but it was pride!”

Without realizing it, the 31-year-old is paving the way for the next few dreaming of refereeing the biggest tournaments.

I know it’s not easy being the first person somewhere, but I’m quick to tell myself that it will pay off in the future and that there are others to come. At some point, it will be normal. There wouldn’t be all that media attention. that’s what I want.

Elizabeth Mantha

“A young girl living in the United States told me that I was an inspiration to her, and that I motivated her to go to school every day. I would never have the idea. […] In these moments, I realize how big it is [de ce que je vis]. »

Open door

Richard Trotier spoke with Journalism between the first and second period. “It does it well,” he said immediately.

Before Mantha joined the MLS in October, Trotter was planning to audition for the college ranks. He was unable to do so the previous year due to COVID-19. Therefore, it is surprising that the official jumped into professionalism before moving on to the big novice.

He explains, “The American League replaced the university circuit, as I couldn’t go see her work. It’s an excellent standard. He assured me that she was able to judge at levels above AAA for beginners.”

Photo by Dominique Gravel, press

Richard Trotier

According to Mr Trottier, Mantha’s arrival opens the door to “everyone who wants to inflate the league’s ranks, whether as a coach, scout or official”.

“If they have the skills and attributes to perform at this level, we will not be opposed,” he said. We will give them a chance, but the fact remains that my responsibility is to ensure that the referees we have on the ice are able to do the job for the safety of the players. This is the most important for the league. And for their safety too. »

“The same applies to the boy,” he adds. Now it will be [Elizabeth] To prove throughout the matches and throughout the seasons that it can be established. »

For its part, the main interested party asserts that it did not feel the greatest need to prove itself to QMJHL.

The National League is supposed to be the leader. That’s what I showed with the MLS. She was the first to appoint the women and I think the other tournaments just realized that it was possible and doable. »

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