Georgia Lyons aiming to make it all the way to the top
On 14 August 2019, Stéphanie Frappart wrote her name into the history books.
By being selected as referee for the European Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea, she became the first female official to officiate in a major men’s European match.
Her achievement is the latest in a string of achievements
for female officials in football. Frappart’s involvement in the final will certainly have helped inspire the next generation of female officials looking to make a name for themselves in professional football.
Across Cheshire, there are a number of young female referees attempting to follow in the footsteps of Frappart and Sian Massey-Ellis - the
first Englishwoman to officiate in a European fixture.
One of those is Georgia Lyons, who turned to refereeing little over 12 months ago.
Having enrolled on the course to gain a new qualification, she admits that being a female referee has impacted her far more than she ever could have imagined.
“I saw the course online and thought I’d give it a go,” she said.
"Every referee I’ve met, no matter what the level, have been humble, down to earth and genuine."
“I really enjoyed it and thought it’d be another good certificate and qualification to have.
"The main thing since doing the course is that I’ve made a lot of friends, male and female. Everyone is really supportive and they all have your back no matter what."
A head-on approach
Although admitting that she found it tough refereeing mini soccer fixtures when starting out, Georgia says that a move to older age groups helped her tackle the challenging nature of refereeing head-on.
Now, she believes that being a female official in Cheshire has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.
“You get your pre-match nerves and can get a bit anxious,” Georgia admitted. “But when you make that first decision or bring out that first red or yellow card, people realise that you won’t take any messing.
"When you get the 22 handshakes at the end, it is really rewarding. It’s nice when people say that, before the games, they had doubts about me being able to control the game, but I managed to prove them wrong - it feels really good.”
The next generation
Last month, we ran our first ever female-only Referees Course at Cheshire FA HQ, helping 20 aspiring female referees take the first step on their officiating journey.
Georgia – who refereed last year’s Cheshire FA U13 Girls Minor Cup and now officiates in the West Cheshire Division, amongst others – says she has no hesitation about encouraging other girls to follow a similar path.
She said: "For anyone looking to get into refereeing, I'd highlight recommend doing the course.
“It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done. My biggest regret is not doing it earlier.
"The constant testing [involved with refereeing] is pushing me to be a better person on and off the pitch, and outside of football as well."
Ed Duckworth, Cheshire FA Referee Development Officer, said: "Georgia is a prime example of a young, hungry female match official looking to grasp every available opportunity and progress up the refereeing pyramid.
"She is developing into a wonderful referee, and if any other match official can harvest the enthusiasm and determination that Georgia possesses, refereeing across Cheshire will be all the better for it."Get into female refereeing