Skip to content

Local referee Chad Pereira called up to officiate Team Canada

Local referee Chad Pereira was selected to officiate at the Senior Men’s National Team training camp.

Chad Pereira’s career as a basketball referee has come with plenty of highlights — from exciting local championships, to college and University playoffs — but nothing compares to the assignment he landed recently: officiating Canada’s Men’s National Team.

“It was just a huge honour,” said Pereira, 39, who was selected to attend and help officiate at the Senior Men’s National Team training camp, which ran June 28-July 7 in Toronto ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“It was amazing, honestly; a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m just blessed that I got to do it.”

Pereira, a local referee who serves on the executive of the Sarnia Association of Basketball Officials (S.A.B.O), was invited by Ontario University Athletics (OUA) officials’ assignor Dave Maxin to referee for the training camp roster that included a full slate of world-class NBA stars.

Local referee Chad Pereira, seen here officiating a Lambton Lions basketball game, was recently invited to officiate at the Senior Men’s National Team training camp. Tyler Bennett, Lambton College photo.

“I went down for their first practice of the training camp…and got a front row seat,” Pereira recalled. “We sat on the sidelines while they did some drills, and once they were ready to play full-court five-on-five, that’s when they brought us in, and we went and refereed.

“It was the coolest thing that I have ever done or been a part of in my life.”

Still, Pereira did his best to keep his cool.

“The size and speed was so much different than anything that I’ve ever done before,” he said.

“Not to mention you’ve got these professional basketball players on the floor and you’re trying not to be starstruck; so I was really trying to focus on what I had to do as an official, and not worry about [Denver Nuggets Point Guard] Jamal Murray over there, or [Oklahoma City Thunder Point Guard] Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over there shooting the ball.

“It all came back to me refereeing and me being there for a reason and just trying to do the best that I can.”

Pereira got his start in basketball while in Grade 5 at High Park School in Sarnia, where coaches Jeff Rogers and Irene Bondarchuk instilled his love for the game — right around the time the Toronto Raptors joined the NBA.

He continued playing into high school under the mentorship of Paul Frayne and Pete Kaija at St. Clair Secondary.

“I really owe a lot to them…I had a very good high school experience in basketball specifically — we had some very good teams; we won some championships and I was lucky enough to win an OFSAA silver medal in my last year.”

Pereira went on to play at Lambton College and again, credits his coaches — Steve Pepper, James Grant, and Andrew Westlake.

“I just have nothing but good things to say about my time at Lambton; it was great. And so awesome to see them now, both the men’s and women’s programs doing so well.”

It wasn’t until about 12 years ago that Pereira decided to pick up a whistle. He was approached by longtime local referee and S.A.B.O. member John Brown.

“We just hit it off, and I was like, ‘OK I will give it a shot,’” Pereira recalled. “He was in his 70s but we were like best buds. He’s really the one that got me started in reffing.”

Brown passed away in 2020. Pereira knows he would have loved to hear about his experience in Toronto.

“I think the thing that brings me the most joy from this is, I get to share it with a lot of people,” he said, pointing to fellow S.A.B.O members Kayla Dawson and Jamie Ireland, who also helped him along the way.

“I’ll never be bigger than the game,” he said. “I still love refereeing elementary school kids, and I still get those butterflies when I’m stepping on the floor of big playoff games, or finals, or whatever it may be. 

“Refereeing is just my way, I guess, of giving back to the game.”


[email protected]

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free