By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator

Sport Manitoba is proud to launch a media campaign to bring attention to the declining participation of sport officials due to increasing incidents of maltreatment. #NoRefNoGame is a reminder that without referees, officials, and umpires, there would be no games.

#NoRefNoGame features personal stories from Manitoba officials sharing what it’s like to be behind the call. See the stories and campaign materials at,, and at @sportmanitoba and @TrueSportpur on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The goal of the campaign is to generate awareness, support and ultimately change how sport officials are treated.

The #NoRefNoGame campaign was developed alongside a workshop hosted by Sport Manitoba that was attended by more than 60 sport officials in the fall of 2019. Supported by Canada Games Legacy Funding, the workshop explored how a collaborative commitment to bringing the True Sport Principles to life could help to address the declining participation of officials due to increasing incidents of maltreatment.

As fall and winter sports are entering varied phases of their return to play plans, Sport Manitoba and its Provincial Sport Organization partners recognize that there are approximately 8,500 officials certified in Manitoba and want to do their part in ensuring officials are treated with respect and given the opportunity to develop and excel.

The Manitoba Action Plan for Sport (MAPS) is a five-year strategic plan outlining focus areas for funding, development, and sustainability of sport programs. Sport Manitoba began this process in 1999 to ensure a collective vision and common goals for the entire sport community in Manitoba. In the 2020-2025 plan, the focus areas are Athlete Development, Sport Culture, and Value of Sport and one of the key threads within all three areas is the recruitment, training, mentorship, and retention of officials.

Layered onto the MAPS priorities, the campaign is another example of Sport Manitoba’s long-term dedication to True Sport – Canada’s commitment to values-based and principle-driven sport. Sport Manitoba believes that bringing True Sport to life through the development of policies and plans that foster fair, safe, inclusive and fun sport experiences will instill character in our kids, strengthen our communities and increase opportunities for personal excellence. True Sport is an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES).



“We encourage all athletes, coaches and fans to play the game and treat officials with respect. Now, more than ever we know what it’s like to be unable to play the sports we love, and these games cannot go on without the support and participation of officials. I commend Sport Manitoba for the great work they’re doing to keep respect in sport a priority.”
– The Honourable Minister Cathy Cox, Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage

“It is so important that the proper treatment of officials is brought to light in the sport community. They are dedicated, passionate individuals who make games and competition possible for all of us to enjoy. Sport Manitoba is committed along with True Sport and the Provincial Sport Organizations to helping create an environment where all officials are treated with respect and people feel safe and welcome to pursue opportunities in officiating.”
– Jeff Hnatiuk, President and CEO, Sport Manitoba

“The CCES is thrilled to support Sport Manitoba’s #NoRefNoGame campaign. Officials are an integral part of the Canadian Sport System and deserve to be treated as such. The CCES fosters initiatives that activate values-based and principle-driven sport in Canada and bring the True Sport Principles to life; we believe the #NoRefNoGame campaign will have a significant impact in this area.”
– Karri Dawson, Senior Director, Quality Sport, CCES