Ryan Matsuba

Staying Cool in the Desert: The UA’s Ryan Matsuba Goes For Gold

At the end of the day, there will be no sponsorship deals, national headlines and no hero’s welcome, but that’s okay for UA refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic Ryan Matsuba.

Matsuba is representing Canada this week at the 44th WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi. The competition will serve as the final stepping stone in a three-year journey that has seen the Spruce Grove resident successfully compete and succeed in provincial and national competitions. Matsuba is part of the 31-member Team Canada contingent that are arriving in Abu Dhabi, where close to 100,000 spectators are expected to attend the competition. In total, 1,300 participants from 60 countries will test their skills against international standards relevant to their occupational trade.

“I have had to educate some people on what exactly the WorldSkills Competition is,” acknowledges Matsuba. “The event doesn’t have a high profile here in Canada so I have spent the last three months explaining and educating my friends on the process,” says Matsuba.

The 21-year old journeyman’s goal isn’t adulation, but to break the various stereotypes that continue to surround the trades. “I tell people that trades are no longer a backup plan. They give individuals an opportunity to have good, stable jobs doing what they love to do,” asserts Matsuba.

Matsuba and 22 rivals in Abu Dhabi have 17 hours to develop a working refrigeration system using hundreds of elements. The mock-up they’re constructing is envisioned to run a small-scale rink ice plant. He’ll have another three hours to troubleshoot a faulty piece of equipment.

“The biggest concern I have going in is finishing the project. I know I will anxious at the start but I feel that I have prepared myself mentally over the past three months to deal with my nerves,” states Matsuba.

Matsuba has assembled the plant a half-dozen times while training during weekends since March. His uncle, Todd Matsuba, head of NAIT’s department of electrical installations, has served as Ryan’s mentor. The elder Matsuba has taken team members to World Skills competitions in England and Germany.

“I have been so lucky to have a strong support system behind me. UA Local 488 has been great in allowing me to take time off and prepare. That, combined with encouragement from my uncle and my family has given me the confidence to go overseas and just do my best,” notes Matsuba.

“The experience of competing at the world level and representing my country is something I’ve always dreamed about. Winning the gold medal would be super, but promoting and advancing the trades is far more important to me,” states Matsuba.

We couldn’t agree more Ryan. Well done.