The Football Association of Wales will host a new referee course on 9 June specifically focused on females who wish to start officiating.
Cheryl Foster (pictured above), Laura Griffiths and Ceri Williams are three of our FIFA qualified females that represent Wales across Europe, and recently spoke to FAW.cymru to share their thoughts on this new initiative and what benefits it can have for females who are currently considering taking up the whistle in Wales.
Referee Cheryl Foster was a former international striker for Wales, and turned to refereeing at the end of her playing career. “It’s given me back my buzz for the game and increased my confidence in being able to officiate at the very highest level,” she explained. “I have also thoroughly enjoyed travelling around the world and meeting new people. But also I have enjoyed challenging myself both physically and mentally to get to the top of the domestic leagues, as well as the positive reception I have received from players, coaches and supporters.”
From her own experience, Foster also explained why a female course is so important. “The course I attended was all male,” she added. “Most I have been to are male dominant and this is the same across all of Wales. It's likely that this will have put some females off in the past as it can be intimidating, but it's a chance to represent your country and feel the thrill of managing and controlling the game you love. There are so many people to offer advice and support that you're never alone, and you will join a whole community who are committed to ensuring that you will be the best that you can be.”
I never thought in a million years that I wanted to be a referee until I did it.
Laura Griffiths began officiating almost a decade ago at the age of 17. Now a qualified FIFA assistant referee, she heads to Bulgaria soon to officiate at the finals of the Women's U17 Championship.
“Personally, refereeing has helped me massively,” she explained. “I have become a much more confident person. Over the years I have made some friends for life through refereeing. This course is very important. With the interest of the women's game ever increasing in popularity, this is a perfect opportunity to recruit female officials. With the right attitude and commitment, you can progress quickly up through the football pyramid, just like I have.
The course is priced at £80.00 per person, which includes a full referee kit, whistle, officiating pack and flags to enable you to get out on the pitch as soon as you have completed the course. Once you’ve passed the different sessions, you will be invited to the final face to face session at Dragon Park, Newport on 9 June at the FAW Female Referee Conference, where you will benefit from working with FIFA qualified referees. The minimum age to attend the course is 14. You will also meet your local area refereeing representatives and have the chance to ask any pressing questions. Attendance to the final session is key to qualifying as a referee.
“I never thought in a million years that I wanted to be a referee until I did it,” explained FIFA assistant referee Ceri Williams. “But if you never try, you never know. If you enjoy watching or playing football, or just enjoy being a part of the game, then it’s 100% worth the chance. I've learnt so much from refereeing. At school I was relatively quiet. I was always a bit of a teachers pet and would hide in the corner and do my work. But refereeing has really helped me to find my voice, and it’s led me into a number of managerial roles in my life outside of refereeing.
“Running a female-only course is really beneficial as I think it can sometimes be quite intimidating for women and girls to get into the game if they haven’t had a lot of experience of it growing up,” Williams added. “And I also think females face different challenges while officiating.
"The FAW have been so supportive of me throughout my career. I was given a place at a London university in 2013, and despite living 200 miles away from my home town in Swansea, the FAW continued to support and develop me. They arranged fixtures for me when I was home, invited me to development events, and pushed me to become the FIFA official I am today.”
Find out more about the course, and other refereeing courses run by the FAW, at www.becomearef.wales.
[Photo: Carmarthen Town FC]