We invited our Grassroots Womens Referees to attend the National Womens Referee Development Day hosted by the FA. LCFA-REGISTERED LEVEL 7 REFEREE Molly Parker takes you through her experiences the day.
‘Take every opportunity’ resonated with me even before I had arrived at Warwick University, for what was certain to be a truly enlightening, engaging and inspirational day.
“Purple Monkey” and it was a match! Ice breaker duties included mingling with new faces, learning names as well as sharing interesting facts. With everyone’s nervous energy now resolved and the agenda arranged, I was determined to fully embrace the workshops, and the other thought-provoking activities the day had in store. First up, Decision Making lead by Stacey Pearson, Level 3 and FIFA Referee.
Decision making involved many thorough, maybe slightly ruthless but friendly, discussions with our newly formed groups, pinpointing the laws of the game in videos from past matches. It was a safe space to express our thoughts, our contrasting judgements and a brutal analysis of the referee's final decision. See, Recognise, Think and Action is the process that will now always be clear in my mind on a match day. Before today, in grassroots matches I have often questioned my knowledge of the game and whether I have made the correct decision with the amount of comments being thrown around by parents, players and coaches. However, this workshop has honestly increased my confidence when believing a challenge is deemed careless, reckless or of an excessive force, not only because there was a full consensus in the room but I was encouraged to voice my thoughts. ‘Learn to take your time’ was the most important message I took away with me from this workshop.
On to Workshop 2 - Confidence; the one I was looking to learn from the most and led by Lauren Impey, 1W Referee. Positive body language, approachable, firm decisions, and clear signals to name just a few fundamental attributes a referee should possess highlighted just how much I do without even thinking twice. I have always been someone who feels low in confidence in anything I do but, despite this, I found I had more confidence than I thought. Do I always introduce myself and expectations to teams and managers before a match? Yes. Do I wear appropriate kit, clean boots, and have an organised approach to pre-match, during and post-match? Yes. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I learn from my mistakes? Absolutely, Yes! This workshop did not disappoint, and it was refreshing to learn even the top referees can make mistakes, but the most important thing is to learn from them. I was reminded that I am only human.
Following a delicious lunch and an invaluable chance to network with the development mentors, we were onto our third and final workshop - Teamwork. Brainstorming the key qualities that make a team effective; the importance of working within a team on a match day, whether that is with a group of officials or with the managers and players. We were split up into smaller groups and were tasked with building a freestanding tower made from paper plates, lolly pop sticks and paper cups. This activity was very exciting, particularly as we were all against the clock so the pressure was mounting to build, not only the most stable tower but the highest too! My group had a clear and confident leader and we all agreed to build this planned structure. We listened, we communicated effectively, we all took up specific roles, we took our time, and we kept our cool which eventually led us to victory. As a group we had succeeded, but listening to how other groups approached the task was very entertaining. No clear plan, no clear leader and no clear means of communication lead to towers falling which was in fact the underlying importance of the workshop.
The conference hall was set up to host a Q&A session involving Emily Carney, Lauren Impey, Stacey Pearson and Ruby Skyes - all notably experiencing different paths, different highs, different lows but, most importantly, highlighting the support network where they have the closest of friends. I was able to learn about a trip to a match with FIFA, the insight into how they all balance family, work and refereeing commitments as well as their most notable pieces of advice. After the conclusion of the final question, we were all looking forward to the keynote speaker which would put the cherry on top of the most inspiring day. ‘Please welcome to the stage, Bibi Steinhaus-Webb’, just her presence and long list of achievements alone could inspire the progress of any female referee. With the prowess, passion and power that Bibi holds, it did not take long for everyone to be mesmerised by the words being spoken, by the inspirational stories and by the memorable quotes from unbelievable mentors. Being told there is no better time to progress as a female referee was thought provoking, especially as I had attended the day with the intent of being inspired and to come away with an extended skill set to allow me to stick with being a referee. After a long but inspiring day I was ready to make the next step.
I learnt a huge amount from the development day not only to take into my refereeing, but into everyday life. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people, connecting with experienced mentors, engaging in amazing activities and listening to very talented professionals. The big take home messages for me were ‘Do what makes you happy’ and ‘Believe to Achieve’. I can honestly say this day has motivated me to not only get involved with future events but to develop within the referee’s pathways. If you are looking to be inspired and be totally in awe of truly amazing people, make sure to book yourself onto the next Women’s Refereeing Development Day.
As part of the FA’s ongoing support for Female Referees, there are a number of local Regional Support Leads who are being a key support mechanism for aspiring Female Officials, Emily Carney is the Regional Support Lead for the North West and will be hosting a Regional Event in the very near future.
Emily Carney commented on the success of the day:
"I was delighted to see so many grassroots referees making friends, sharing experiences and having fun together," she said.
"It is very encouraging for the future of Women’s Refereeing that so many girls took the opportunity to attend the event to further develop their skills as referees. There were some real shining stars that attended the event and it's amazing to think that they could be operating in the Women's Super League and Women's Championship in a couple of years if they continue to work hard and take every opportunity given to them."
If you would like to be involved in future events or development opportunities please contact our Referee Development Officer, Natasha Wilson, Natasha.Wilson@LiverpoolFA.com