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In Memory of a Canadian Futsal Legend: Bob Tibbo

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It is with the absolute saddest of hearts that we say goodbye to one of Canada's greatest futsal builders, Bob Tibbo, as he has passed away at the age of 60. The news is beyond devastating for all of us in the futsal community as Bob is an irreplaceable part of our futsal family. He was not only a coach, referee, volunteer, teacher, and builder; he was above all our dear friend.

Robert Paul Tibbo was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick on March 24th 1958 and passed away on Saturday December 15th while on vacation in New York.

Bob started his futsal career as a parent in the Ottawa Carleton Futsal League where he could be seen passionately supporting his children from the stands. He started volunteering with the various clubs his kids were participating with and after becoming an assistant coach he eventually became a referee in the OCFL in 2001, joining his long-time friends Joe Audi, Costa Karamalis, and Dan Popescu in manning the lines of Canada’s largest futsal league.

Always one to push his boundaries Bob wanted to take his encyclopedic knowledge of the FIFA Futsal Laws of the Game further, “Never call it the rules!” as he liked to tell everyone. As a result of his passion for the game he joined the Ontario Soccer Association’s Futsal Committee in 2006 alongside fellow futsal referee Marc Christiaens and Vince Tersigni before eventually becoming its Chairman in 2011.

In 2009, he was selected as the Referee Coordinator for the Toronto International Futsal Tournament and it was there that referees from Canada and the United States converged for what was at the time a ground-breaking futsal competition in Canada. Former FIFA Futsal Referee, Jason Krnac, who officiated at the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup, said “The level of officiating here is the highest I’ve ever been a part of in North America.” The credit for that all goes to Bob. Elite futsal referees in Canada knew right then and there where the bar was set.

He then developed futsal referee programs that were adopted by both the Ontario Soccer Association and Canadian Soccer Association that continue to be instrumental in developing referees today. He was truly proud of being Canadian and thoroughly enjoyed traveling the country to teach futsal courses and make sure everyone caught the 'futsal fever.'

It was around 2010 that that he joined Futsal Canada as a Director and worked with his partner and friend Kris Fernandes to work on extending Futsal Canada as an organization dedicated to bring Canadian leagues together to play under the FIFA Laws of the Game while helping each league and builder support each other through competitions, coaching, and referee development.

About a dozen leagues from across Canada, some of which were sanctioned and some which weren't, all converged in Toronto for the first futsal conference that would form the initial nucleus of Futsal Canada. Bob was one of the primary presenters throughout that weekend and like in all of his presentations he captivated and engaged everyone in attendance with his energy, insight, and detailed knowledge. That event was a major success and led to a series of great futsal developments shortly after.

One of those developments was the creation of a national tournament in 2014, which also turned out to be a big year for Bob in many ways. He was an integral part in ensuring Futsal Canada delivered the first true national club championship for men's and U18 in April at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He was obsessed with making a big splash in the inaugural event by having elite officiating by ensuring that his friend and fellow FIFA Futsal Instructor, Ed Marco from Pennsylvania was a part of the event as well as FIFA Futsal Referee Shane Butler from Missouri. Because of Bob’s leadership and dedication to excellence the officiating was simply world class and stayed that way in every year of the competition.

A major source of pride for everyone in Canadian futsal came later that year when Bob was selected as the first Canadian to attain the highly coveted role of FIFA Futsal and Beach Soccer Referee Instructor and Assessor, the highest level possible for a referee. He then travelled to train future referees by conducting FIFA clinics in exotic locations across the world including Fiji, Dubai, New Caledonia, and Costa Rica.

As much as he took pride in his work, Bob was always more proud of the accomplishments of those he helped. A particularly proud moment for him is when Montreal’s Chris Grabas was officially named as the first ever Canadian FIFA Futsal Referee in January 2018, after having mentored him over the years and getting him involved in big games across the continent.

Bob was also the key futsal referee assessor and mentor at every edition of not only Futsal Canada's championship events but was also heavily involved in the officiating portion of the CSA’s Futsal Championships where he provided incredible insight to all referees at every edition.

Outside of his futsal life Bob was a highly successful management consultant, having had a hand in deals that when added up over the years numbered in the billions. Part of his success is attributed to his love of solving problems and puzzles along with his ability to effectively communicate with a wide array of people from all walks of life.

Off the court and out of the boardroom he had a great fascination with astronomy, the universe, and was a die hard Ottawa Senators hockey fan. If you ever dined with him you are well aware that nothing could put a smile on his face more than a thick, juicy steak right off the grill accompanied by a fine single malt Scotch whiskey (anything less than 22 years of age to him was considered sacrilege) while listening to classic rock, particularly any song by Chicago.

As much as he loved landing a big contract at work, enjoyed his fine Scotch and steaks, or moving futsal forward absolutely nothing in the world meant more to him than spending time with his lovely wife of 32 years, Deborah, and his two children, Max and Meagan. He was as loving as a father could possibly be and that was evident anytime you had a conversation on the phone with him. He was more proud of his children than anything he ever accomplished.

His high level of energy and commitment to remaining positive, even in the most difficult of circumstances, was astounding and infectious to those around him while his ability and desire to help those who requested his guidance was nothing short of inspirational. It is often said that every man dies but not every man lives. Not only did Bob Tibbo live a glorious life, he leaves a lasting legacy in many ways, but perhaps none more far-reaching around the globe than with futsal, the sport he so truly loved with all his heart.

There will be a celebration of Bob’s life that is open to everyone on December 29th at the Ottawa St-Anthony Italia Soccer Club at 523 St Anthony Street, from 1pm – 4pm. In lieu of flowers the Tibbo family would appreciate any memorial donations be made to the Cancer Research Society

Video #1: Bob at the Futsal Canada Championship

Video #2: Bob at the Toronto International Futsal Tournament

Video #3: Bob at a futsal friendly featuring then CSA President Victor Montagliani