Today we would like to highlight and acknowledge the FSC Referee Development Panel as a whole and current up and coming referees as part of our Female Football Week.
The Referee Development Panel is the recognition of developing referees showing potential who want to excel and continue their learning process within the game.
The RDP is the training ground for referees to further develop their refereeing skills in order to progress to State Titles, National Titles, into the NPL and eventually the Hyundai A-League or W-League.
As part of the RDP, you are placed into different areas of football around the Illawarra including the NPL Youth Competition (Wollongong Wolves), State League, the Youth Illawarra Stingrays matches and the South Coast Flame matches.
Lauren Leung (pictured centre-right) is a 16-year-old female who began her football journey in her early days. She started off playing for Figtree Junior’s when she was 10 years old, until she decided it was time to take a different pathway and began her refereeing career where she felt a sense of empowerment and leadership.
During this time, Lauren was only one of two female referees who were involved at her club. In 2020, she became a part of the RDP and has since found a massive growth in female referees.
“As part of the Referee Development Panel, they place you into these higher-level matches to test your technical ability and to see how you present yourself in such a high expectation match,” Lauren said.
Last year there were only two female referees in the RDP out of 15 – a massive difference. Today, it has significantly improved as it now includes five more female referees involved in the program – a male to female ratio of 50 percent.
“Having more female referees, I feel that there is more female empowerment, not only in the shed but also on the field and I think female referees are becoming more common in a male dominant sport,” she said.
“The general population of referees were mainly men so some of the players weren’t used to having a female referee take over. It is nice to have that mutual respect.”
Lauren has shown so much growth and improvement since day one and she hopes to become an inspiration to all females who aspire to become a referee at a young age. She encourages all females to push as far as they can, whether it be in the Division One leagues, Illawarra Premier League, NPL, State League and the W-League.
Referees play one of the biggest roles in a football match and we would like to thank and recognise all our female referees as part of Female Football Week. The community, the players and the clubs appreciate all of you.
“I absolutely aspire and love the idea of how they put female football in the spotlight as I think it needs more attention in general especially with encouragement and awareness, all over the community,” Lauren said.
“I do wish there were more female referees to help balance out the stigma between dominance and leadership on the football pitch, however it has already grown so much, and I hope that this can continue over the next few years.”
Story by Alison Dinh, on Twitter @alisondinh_