Monday 31 July 2023, 08:25

Local referees enjoy legacy learnings from world’s elite

A focus on legacy has been a key theme underpinning the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, one that is generally clearly visible in tangible ways such as infrastructure improvements and equipment contributions. So too, there are also numerous less evident areas in which FIFA is helping to provide positive benefits for the football fraternities of both nations. FIFA partnered with Football NSW to provide local community referees the opportunity to observe World Cup referee training in Sydney where ‘Team One’ are based during the tournament. Kari Seitz, FIFA Head of Refereeing, Women, said: “The idea that the tournament can really benefit the community as a legacy programme long term by the referees coming out, observing the Women’s World Cup referees – this is an opportunity for inspiration as well as knowledge sharing.”

Notably, hundreds of local match officials have been engaged in the programme over the course of the tournament. Many of those have travelled significant distances to make the most of a unique opportunity. “We try to make a connection with the community – the referee community – at every competition we do at FIFA,” Seitz added. “What I think is really nice about this one is we are getting more referees involved to be part of this really unique opportunity.”

The FIFA Referee Legacy Observers Program provided an example of how hosting the Women’s World Cup can benefit the local community through knowledge sharing experiences. With only limited number of females historically taking up refereeing, the programme - and the tournament - is providing role models for young aspiring match officials. “There's nothing better than seeing what the future can hold and for girls to see what they could be,” said Renae Coghill, Football Australia’s Elite Refereeing Coach. “And, definitely, we've had some observers come through and they can see the role models of the referees, but also people doing roles behind the scenes. So, there are different pathways you can take, and I think that's something that's growing so much for women at the moment. “[The young girls] just seem so excited when you talk about it. It gives them something to aspire to and just they're getting little hints and tips. And so many people don't realise what referees do behind the scenes and the preparation they put in. So, getting a little insight to that gives the girls something to plan and [aspire] to.”

Olivia Chivers, a young second-year referee from the St George Football Association in southern Sydney said: “I attended the referee observers program just so I could see how the women trained to get ready for the Women’s World Cup, and to see how they worked together as a team. “I’ll take away, obviously, how they observed the game and, obviously, I will look at their positioning, when they’re near play, etc. So, it’s very good for me to see how the actual FIFA referees referee the game, not just being on TV, but while they are training.”