The changing face of women’s football as a referee I go back many years in the women’s game enjoying reffing a lot of the stars of today when they were aspiring footballers.
Being a referee is fantastic you get to be on the frontline of some amazing football, there’s nothing like being stuck behind a player who curls the ball into the top corner or the defender cleanly gets the ball and everybody stands and applauds the tackle and you had the front row seat.
Years ago when I was on the promotion trail I would referee a number of top teams and you were apart of some great games Its fair to say that some games that were full of blood and Thunder. There were a few different things within the women’s game to the men’s game. Communication was different in the women’s game you had to be clearer at what you were explaining but one of the big things about the women’s game was how they dealt with a tackle, they will get back up and they just want to play on. I fell in love with the women’s game a long time ago because of its honesty and the fact that the players wanted to play football. The women’s game has transitioned over the years and it’s fair to say they deserve the professionalism that they now have the full time clubs the TV rights the sponsors and the brilliant support of the spectators.
The transition of this game is excelling at an unbelievable pace I recently got to referee at the level I used to be at after a few years absence, the team was Sheffield United ladies playing an inhouse friendly. The game itself was unbelievable the ladies playing were so skilful so fast so good in their timing and so respectful towards myself. The very first 15 minutes of this game I was in awe at the skill I was seeing the patience in the build-up of play. The ladies playing the game with doing some unbelievable diagonal balls 45 yards across the pitch straight to the winger sprinting down the wing. The thing was I was refereeing without assistants so the pace of the game probably it’s fair to say caught me out. I had to change my game plan, read the game quicker, analyse my movement and ensure my positioning was different to what normally works, changing my referee style to suit the game whilst in the game was a must and a quick learning curve.
The speed the intricacy of the passing the movement on and off the ball was outstanding and this was just a friendly. My natural game plan as a referee went completely out the out of the window due to the amazing progress in the women’s game after that initial 15 minutes of watching young players who I’ve seen grow up over the years those young players who I officiated at junior football to see them reach the Heights that they are now reaching was actually an honour and I was proud of the League I’d seen them in, I’m proud of the years I’d given to refereeing to witness this level of the players.
The thing with the ladies that were playing is they’ve got another level to go some of these ladies were exceptional in their skill and through to some of the development players you could see they were on the same page as their first team counterparts. The women’s game has come a long, long way and the referee in turn must keep up, I had to change my game with all the experience that I have, shows the reason why officials at that very top level will soon need to be full time.
If you’ve never been to watch a woman’s game I I highly advise you to take the plunge and get pulled into this amazing game of football. The women’s game has an honesty and integrity about it. It is different from the men’s game and if you love football in its purity then the women’s game is a place to go watch and enjoy