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Juan Marquez

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Referee Development Officer at Soccer Nova Scotia.

Juan Marquez is the man behind the whistles at Soccer Nova Scotia. As the Referee Development Officer, Juan has dedicated himself to supporting the educational journey of aspiring referees.

Juan says his enthusiasm fuels his commitment to the Referee Development Program — a cornerstone initiative aimed at providing educational opportunities for aspiring referees.

“The main focus is simple. We want to provide educational opportunities for whoever wants to be a soccer referee,” Juan explains. This educational support encompasses both classroom sessions and on-field experiences. However, Juan emphasizes that it extends beyond mere instruction. The program offers mentorship, ensuring that every official is seen and supported at least once a year. Beyond that, opportunities for appointments and career advancement are actively promoted, keeping referees motivated and engaged.

Reflecting on the current state of referee participation, Juan, who has been in this role for a year and a half, notes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on involvement. Despite challenges, he observes a good retention rate and an increase in those exploring or returning to refereeing this year.

When asked about standout individuals in the program, Juan proudly highlights a referee identified by the name Zekun, exemplifying dedication and a willingness to learn. Zekun, initially in his second or third year as a referee, lacked experience but displayed remarkable commitment. “He’s been available for all the sessions we try to provide and available for officiating any kind of game, bringing opportunities his way,” Juan recounts. Zekun’s decision to stay in Canada for refereeing, instead of returning to China, underscored how the program can change lives.

Juan sees sports, particularly organized team sports like soccer, as crucial for society’s well-being.

“Sports provide social skills that we need in our society. It’s about being inclusive, feeling welcome, and having doors open for opportunities.”

Within Nova Scotia’s soccer community, Juan Marquez weaves a narrative of education, mentorship, and passion – all centered around the beautiful game. His efforts extend beyond the pitch, creating an environment where aspiring referees find not just guidance, but a sense of belonging.


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