Inspirational Women in the Game - Referees

Hope Cairns

Tell us about how you got involved in refereeing

I got involved in refereeing because of my school. They gave me the opportunity to go to the beacon of light to attend the Lionesses Academy lead Durham FA which was lead by coaches and referees in order to get either a coaching or referee badge. When taking part in these sessions, I began to enjoy refereeing and could picture myself doing it in the future. I went through with the course and did my badge to become a referee. 


What do you enjoy about refereeing?

Refereeing isn’t as simple as saying one thing you enjoy. I referee a wide range of ages and in different ages you will have different enjoyments. In youth football from U8s to U14s, I enjoy seeing the players develop and improve. I usually do a lot of Trimdon FC youth teams and seeing them develop as players themselves is a great thing about refereeing. Also, seeing girls playing for boys teams reminds me of myself when I was younger and seeing them enjoy it and do well is a great thing to witness. When the age increased to u15s to adult football, the competitive nature and desire a lot of teams have to win is great. I enjoy being able to be on the pitch and largely involved with the game. As well as this, regardless of the result, seeing teams that are good sportsmen towards each other is a positive and hopefully is taken forward into the future. I also referee for Man v Fat which is a programme designed to help people loose weight. I enjoy seeing the players progress and reach their goals of loosing weight while enjoying themselves and having a good time at the games. 


What are your greatest achievements in refereeing so far and why?

I haven’t really refereed for a large amount of time so my biggest achievement would have to be gaining confidence in myself through refereeing. Every team relies on you to insure that the game is fair as well as fluent. Having to make decisions almost immediately is very difficult as there are many factors to be taken into account. This has enabled me gain trust in my own decisions through the mainly positive reactions I get from players, which has lead to my confidence being increased. 

What is your best memory in refereeing?

Having refereed for such a short time, so I would say my best memories are yet to be formed. 


What are your goals in refereeing?

My goals in refereeing is to reach the highest level I can. I would like to go down the male path. Reaching premier league level would be my aspiration.


What are the biggest obstacles you have faced to date?

My biggest obstacle to date would be having to rely on my parents to take me to and from games. As a young referee, I cannot drive and some games can end up being far away. My mum and dad have helped me a lot and supported me in getting to and from matches. On top of this, buying equipment such as kits, whistles, cards and flags etc isn’t cheap and they have helped me with this also. 


What advice would you give to females wishing to get involved in refereeing?

A piece of advise I would give to females looking to get involved in refereeing would be just be yourself. Don’t be afraid of what people might think as in a game of football you can never make both teams happy at all times! Bring yourself to understand that your going to make mistakes as you are human but don’t beat yourself up about it, just take it in your stride and learn from it for your future benefit.

Deborah Tait

Tell us about how you got involved in football?

Getting involved with football for me was just supposed to be about helping at Soccercise sessions being run for my club by The Foundation Of Light – these were to promote women’s fitness to all those ladies who run their kids to footy and then have to hang around to then pick them up again! Gaining a Level 1 coaching qualification was a bonus that then kick-started me to get more and more involved. Futsal and goalkeeper coaching training followed and I now do anything from fun and manic games sessions for 2 and 3 year olds up to specific goalkeeper training for older age groups.

What do you enjoy about being involved in football?

Making sure that everyone involved with football embraces the RESPECT agenda is a huge aim for me in my work within the football community – to make it a respectful, safe and inclusive environment for players, coaches, spectators and referees equally.

In just the 7yrs, I’ve been involved, there’ve been huge changes in grassroots football with a massive surge of interest from women in playing, coaching and refereeing. Not only does the FA now have a wealth of different online training courses, there are resources available online that anyone with a FAN can log on to learn from. Social media helps too with coaching and refereeing support groups popping up – having a friendly online forum in which to ask all of your daft questions really helps to make you feel supported. 

What are your greatest achievements in refereeing so far and why?

Most recently, I’ve focused on refereeing and I’m lucky to have been involved with fixtures with some truly lovely clubs – zipping around the North East every weekend, refereeing and running the line as assistant referee at everything from an under 7s 5 v5 match to Women’s FA cup fixtures.

What advice would you give to females wishing to get involved?

The football community is a welcoming, friendly place - open to everyone to become involved in – times are changing and so is football and hopefully by strengthening female involvement in playing, coaching and refereeing, we will make this happen all the more quickly.