Girls’ Football Week: ‘Huge opportunities for female officials’ – referee Lucy Oliver
To celebrate The FA’s Girls’ Football Week, AoC Sport is producing a series of articles and features on different aspects of the female game throughout colleges.
Yesterday, we hosted a Referee Hub Development Day in partnership with BUCS, and caught up with Sunderland College’s Sports Development Officer and FA level 3 referee, Lucy Oliver.
What opportunities are there now for females looking to become top level football officials?
There are huge opportunities within refereeing. I have achieved through refereeing what I never would have achieved through playing. Operating in semi-professional football and officiating in some fantastic stadiums in front of crowds in both the men’s and women’s game. The opportunities aren’t just local, they are also national and international. There has been no better time to become a referee!
To what extent do you feel colleges are helping/can help to promote opportunities for female officials?
Colleges help to provide students with an opportunity to referee a variety of styles of football from TeamNineteen and futsal to intramural and league football. They also provide support for officials alongside their County FAs. It’s pleasing to see the success of the Referee Hub programme in its inaugural year through AoC Sport – I think it shows colleges are dedicated in supporting their students on the refereeing pathway.
What more can be done to encourage females to go into refereeing?
I think it’s about building awareness of the role. With the number of women participating in football increasing, it’s about showing all the possible avenues of the game from the practical avenues such as playing, coaching and refereeing to the other roles such as administration and media. The FA Girls’ Football Festivals have done a great job over the last two years at raising awareness of refereeing through offering mini taster sessions and I believe through opportunities like that and the implementation of a solid support system the numbers will inevitably continue to rise.
What advice would you give to girls who are keen to become officials?
Do it. I was so scared on the first day of my referee course but I look back now and I am so pleased that I stuck at it. It has developed me both on and off the field and opened doors to some fantastic opportunities. For me 10 years on it is still a hobby – I get a buzz out of every game!
To find out about refereeing courses in your local area, take a look at The FA website.