Female Refereeing

rebecca welsh inspiring the future

FIFA and PGMOL referee Rebecca Welch visited our DFA Female CORE group to talk to them about her refereeing journey from local grassroots here in Durham to the international stage as a Euros and World Cup referee. It was inspiring to hear how she had navigated through the refereeing pyramid to reach the very top and provide that great motivation to the group to be the best they can be.

Hear from two of our Female CORE referees Jessica and Ellie:

Ellie Mason 

Jessica Knapp 


Female Refereeing in Durham FA

During the 2022 FIFA World Cup there was a first, a full female officiating team. It was a ground breaking moment in which Stephanie Frappart, Karen Diaz and Neuza Back took charge of Costa Rice v Germany. Our Referee Development Officer, Seb Stockbridge was recently on BBC radio Newcastle providing his thoughts on the appointment and female refereeing in Durham FA.

Durham officials selected for female ETP

The FA recently held a selection evening at West Riding FA for female referees looking to be part of the newly formed female emerging talent programme.

The programme is designed to identify talented female referees who can progress within both the male and female pathways. They will receive 1:1 coaching and support, be given the opportunity to officiate England youth games and other domestic games as well as being supplied with kit.

We are therefore delighted to confirm that Durham FA have 2 successful referees join the programme in Ellie Mason and Hope Cairns.

Below is Ellie’s comments around the programme:

I've been refereeing for just over a year and have been attending the Durham FA CORE training since summer. In November, I found out that I had been put forward for the Women's Refereeing Emerging Talent Programme, and I was invited to go to Leeds to meet Jo Stimpson (Women's National Referee Development Manager) from The FA for an assessment.

There were 10 female referees at the event, some from Durham FA and some from Yorkshire. We started by talking about some of the LOTG - we were given scenarios and asked to work in groups to discuss how we would handle the situation and explain what we would do if that happened to us whilst refereeing.

We then did a physical assessment and talked a lot about the importance of fitness if you are refereeing higher league games. After that, we reviewed some video footage of matches, and were asked to explain what we would do, and then we looked at what the referee in the match actually did, and talked about what was done well, and what maybe was possible to improve - I learned a lot about the importance of position, where the referee might struggle to make the right decision because they hadn't moved with the game to make sure they had a good view of play. Jo and her team explained a little about the programme, and explained the kind of coaching, mentoring and support we could get if we were successful.

The evening was really good, and I came home very excited, but Jo and her team had to host another 7 assessments across the country before we found out if we were selected. We had to wait a few weeks, but I found out at the end of November that I was one of the two lucky referees from Durham FA who were chosen to join the ETP.

It is such a great opportunity, and the first sessions start in January. I'm really looking forward to it and seeing how far I can progress - I would love to referee in the Women's Super League, but I know that there is a lot of work to do in order to get to that level. 

Obviously, this is an exciting time for Ellie and Hope and a great opportunity to learn and grow on their refereeing journey.

The FA Women and Girls Referee Development Event - 12th March 2022

8 of our young referees attended the national event last weekend hosted by the FA at Warwick University. It was a great success with over 120 women and girls in attendance.

It was great to have Holly Middleton, Chloe West, Katie Battman, Hope Cairns, Leah Coulson, Jessica Knapp, Ellie Mason and Courtney Mole represent Durham FA at the development event.

It was lead by Jo Stimpson (FA Head of Women’s refereeing) and included prominent female officials at the event such as PGMOL WSL director Bibi Steinhaus-Webb and a number of WSL match officials.

Jeesica Knapp said “Absolutely loved it, definitely has to be the highlight of my year, made so many friends as well as having so much fun. The best part was the inspirational speech, gave me so much confidence for the game to follow; I also loved how important you feel in a room full of amazing people. Made friends ill keep forever best people I've ever met.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. There were different workshops at different times that were centred around key areas of refereeing such as decision making, team work, and building confidence. These sessions allowed me to talk to people I had never met before and encouraged us to work together. For me, they boosted my confidence in refereeing and have definitely increased my ability as a referee. There was a Q&A session with four experienced referees where they answered questions asked by Joanna Stimpson and also the audience. We also got to take part and listen to Bibi Steinhaus-Webb who was named as female referee of the decade. She gave an inspiring speech which gave us all a lot of useful information to think about.” – Holly Middleton

With the Women’s Euros being held in England this year hopefully this will inspire the next generation of female officials within Durham FA.