Earlier this week, Cheshire FA’s Women’s Referee Development Group were delighted to be joined by FIFA referee Cheryl Foster for a special guest talk.
Amongst other things, she discussed her own experiences of refereeing around the globe and offered advice to the Development Group on what they need to do to progress up the officiating ladder.
The group also got involved with a Q&A session at the end of the talk, leading into a number of fascinating insights about what life is like being a FIFA match official.
Cheryl started training as a referee in 2013 after retiring as a professional footballer aged 32.
She made 63 appearances for the Welsh national team between 1997-2011 and was one of Liverpool Ladies’ longest-serving players, spending 10 seasons at the club. She also had the honour of scoring Liverpool’s first goal in the FA Women’s Super League.
“When you come to the end of your playing career, you start thinking about what’s next,” she said. “With refereeing, you still have everything like a player; you are on the pitch, you have the build-up and are working as part of a team.
“I can 100% say that the only reason I’ve got to where I have as a referee is because of coming to events like these myself and listening to other referees, their advice and their experiences.
“Opportunities like these are amazing. We’ve gone through a lot of my own clips [tonight] and looked at what I could have done better.
“They had some fabulous questions and some fabulous responses. It’s so rewarding to come and speak to girls who have the same love and passion for the game and want to become better.
“What we don’t want is for players to think that we know it all and that we’re always right. These sorts of events are about referees wanting to improve and be better.
“It’s fabulous to see the enthusiasm from the girls. They’ve been so positive and quite open to wanting to improve and that’s really good to see.”
Discussing the evening and her personal journey into refereeing, Cheshire FA referee Georgia Lyons said: “When I first got involved with the Development Group, I’d only been refereeing a matter of months.
“It’s been a lot of pressure but also a great opportunity. I’ve done more in the past year than probably throughout my entire career.
“Every referee I’ve met, no matter what the level, have been humble, down to earth and genuine. Cheryl offering her contact details and fitness plans shows how down to earth they are. It’s surreal but an amazing experience.
Want to become a match official? There is a female-only Referees Course coming up at Cheshire FA HQ at the end of the month.
Sign up now!