Viktor Stamenov (left) of Williams lake poses with legendary FIFA official Howard Webb (middle) and three other Canadian soccer officials at the 2015 Dallas Cup this past April. Webb is an English official who refereed the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa between Spain and the Netherlands.

Viktor Stamenov (left) of Williams lake poses with legendary FIFA official Howard Webb (middle) and three other Canadian soccer officials at the 2015 Dallas Cup this past April. Webb is an English official who refereed the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa between Spain and the Netherlands.

Lakecity official gets FIFA experience

Williams Lake soccer official Viktor Stamenov refereed for a pre-tournament Women’s World Cup friendly match.

Williams Lake soccer official Viktor Stamenov recently had an opportunity of a lifetime when he was asked to be an assistant referee for a pre-tournament Women’s World Cup friendly match.

BC Soccer flew Stamenov to Vancouver to work the June 3 contest between Australia and Switzerland.

“Both national teams were part of the World Cup and even though it was a friendly game both sides desperately wanted to win,” said Stamenov. “This was something special and totally new for me. I am very grateful to BC Soccer for making this happen.”

Stamenov, 24, has lived in the lakecity since 2012 when his family immigrated to Canada from Macedonia, a breakaway nation from the former Yugoslavia granted independence in 1991, located in southeast Europe. Like most European households, he was introduced to soccer (football) at a very young age.

“I spent my first 20 years in Macedonia and soccer is the number one sport that I was introduced to and familiar with from a young age,” said Stamenov.

Despite not officiating his first game until 16, Viktor was always a proponent of fair play and the concept of being a referee actually began growing inside him during his childhood.

“I remember even as a young boy about 10 years old playing street soccer with my friends I was always the one encouraging fair play and rules,” recalls Stamenov. “I’d also watch soccer on TV with my dad and we really enjoyed talking about the game and comment on the ref’s decisions and our point of view.”

Stamenov is very proud to be a part of his adopted country and hopes to one day represent Canada as a FIFA official.

“I still have the same dream when I was a kid. I want to be one of the best. I set my goal pretty high and I am absolutely aware that it’s not easy, but with hard work, lots of practice and a little luck I know that’s possible,” said Stamenov. “I hope that one day I will be honoured and represent Canada to my best abilities in the FIFA world.”

Viktor’s family chose Canada because of the major opportunities and he feels they made a great decision.

“I thought it would be nice to try and experience something new, and after three years I still think I made the right choice — it’s been great so far,” said Stamenov. “My first time stepping on Canadian soil was at the Calgary airport and then we flew right away to Vancouver then Prince George and then drove to Williams Lake.”

The lakecity is the only place in the country Viktor has called home and his first job was at the local McDonalds and then West Fraser Sawmills where he recently completed his final day this June after nearly two years of employment.

During his tenure at West Fraser, Viktor was extremely dedicated and travelled most weekends to Prince George, Kamloops or the Lower Mainland to officiate collegiate level games.

“It was totally worth it and I really enjoyed it and tried to get as many games as I could because when you are on the field you always see, experience or learn something new,” said Stamenov.

Stamenov is currently on holidays in his native Macedonia until the end of August visiting family and friends. When he returns to Canada he will be moving from Williams Lake to Burnaby where he will start his studies in a Geomatics Engineering Technology Program at BCIT.

Viktor has been a steady fixture as an official in the local men’s, ladies’ and youth soccer leagues, as well as playing in both the men’s outdoor and futsal leagues. His brother David and cousin Darko, whose family originally immigrated to the lakecity ahead of his, also play in the local leagues.

“Having David here to support me made coming to Canada so much easier and I couldn’t ask for a better brother,” adds Stamenov.

Viktor is very grateful for all the support he has received since arriving in Canada and after a tough initial few months he has adjusted very well.

“I am a lucky man, pretty much everyone that I met in Canada helped me and are still helping me somehow. I was lost my first few months here but from the first day people around me tried to make me feel at home,” said Stamenov.

“My English was not very good — they showed patience with me and showed me a totally different culture and society.”

Viktor also gives a special thanks to Canadian national referee Rubinco Smilev, who is also originally from Macedonia and Jose Branco, the Referee Development Coordinator at BC Soccer. He is also grateful to all the referees and assessors back in Macedonia and Canada that have helped him on his journey.

“None of this would’ve happened if Jose was not around — he has helped many young referees with his endless time and energy,” said Stamenov.

Viktor also had the honour of officiating in the Dallas Cup in April, one of the biggest youth soccer tournaments in North America with a 36 years history featuring clubs and officials from all over the world. Here Viktor met legendary  FIFA official Howard Webb from England who refereed the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa between Spain and the Netherlands.

“I learned from the best referees in the world including Mauricio Navarro — considered by many the best Canadian soccer referee ever,” said Stamenov. “He worked closely with us Canadians and having a great man like him on our side was something special. I remember he said to me ‘the little things make a big difference.’”

Just Posted

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Milking cows and strangers on the premises

Cows in a milking barn may get upset if a stranger comes

Lake City Secondary School Grade 12 students Haroop Sandhu, from left, Amrit Binning and Cleary Manning are members of the school’s horticulture club. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
LCSS horticulture club a growing success

Aspiring gardeners at a Williams Lake secondary school are earning scholarship dollars… Continue reading

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Tribune.
FOREST INK: Plenty of changes happening in forest industry

A new process produces a biodegradable plastic-like product from wood waste powder

Scout Island Nature Centre in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus file photo)
LETTER: Scout Island is a nature sanctuary not an amusement park

Scout Island absolutely does not need an ice cream stand or a food truck

Professor Nancy Sandy of Williams Lake First Nation, seen here travelling on the land in Tahltan territory, is heading up the new Indigenous Law and Justice Institute at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Patricia Squires photo)
WLFN professor named director of Lakehead University’s Idigenous law, justice institute

A lawyer, Nancy Sandy is also a former chief of Williams Lake First Nation

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read