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How I Started - Female Referee

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Name: Wendy Toms
Job: Referee
Nationality: British
In 1999, Wendy Toms officiated the Nationwide Conference match between Kidderminster and Nuneaton with two female assistant referees, the first time in the senior professional game that all three officials were women. Wendy is the only female assistant referee in the English FA Carling Premiership and Nationwide League.
How did you first get involved in refereeing?
"I married an RAF officer and we were posted abroad to Cyprus. I'd always enjoyed playing football, but since there were no women's football teams in Cyprus I volunteered to take a refereeing course. When I came back to England I wanted to carry on refereeing so the first step was to pass a refereeing exam. Then I registered with the Dorset County FA and, like all referees, I progressed from a Class 3 referee to a Class 1 referee. I started officiating at local parks games, then I graduated to Vauxhall Conference teams, followed by The Football League and finally I was promoted to the list of assistant referees for The FA Premier League."
Apart from officiating during matches, what else does your job involve?
"There's a lot of paperwork, filling in forms, confirming fixtures and so on which is incredibly time consuming. You also spend a lot of time travelling to and from matches. For Premier League matches, the officiating referees need to arrive four hours before kick-off."
What do you enjoy most about working in football?
"It's a very sociable job, you meet new people all the time and it's an exciting and vibrant environment."
What is the highlight of your refereeing career so far?
"I ran the line for the 2000 Worthington Cup final at Wembley, which was a marvellous personal achievement. I was also extremely proud to represent my country at the Sydney Olympics, where I was referee's assistant for the Germany-Sweden match and the USA-Nigeria games. That was a fantastic experience."
Finally, what advice would you give people who want to follow in your footsteps?
"You need determination and commitment. Referees get a lot of hassle but it's still enjoyable. You need experience and knowledge of the game. But above all you have to be prepared to put in the time. Luckily, I work for a company that understands the demands on my time from my refereeing, but I still have to make up any time lost by working extra hours during the week."



May 2001

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