Cardiff City FC Academy played host to 7 women referees this weekend in a first step towards developing its own women’s refereeing programme.
A mix of new and experienced referees took charge as CCFC’s under-13s and under-15s took on Reading FC Academy sides in high quality, competitive games.
The event was the brainchild of the Academy’s Match Day Coordinator Rob Clarke who has overseen the development of referees at CCFC Academy for the best part of a decade.
“I have wanted an all-women referee day at the Academy for a while as I can see the need to grow the pool of female match officials. I want the club and particularly The Academy at the forefront of these efforts.”
Rob plans to bring newly qualified women referees from the South Wales area into the Academy and build their confidence through refereeing the younger age groups. The more established referees will be integrated into more challenging games, joining teams of experienced match officials to learn their trade.
The FAW’s Women’s Referee Development Officer and FIFA List Assistant Referee Ceri Williams helped organize the event and officiated herself in the under-13s game, guiding new referees Eleeza and Rosheen Khan through their first experiences as Assistant Referees. Eleeza and Rosheen also benefited from the support of CWFA Talent Group member Saffron Rennison throughout the match.
After the final whistle, Ceri said: “Having the development opportunities within the academy gives the girls a chance to put into practice what they have learnt in a safe environment. Academy players are still learning, so it's a great space for referees to learn too.”
“It was great to have new faces as well as some of the more senior girls come along, it's given everyone a chance to network, and hopefully it will be the first of many Women's events at the academy.”
Adran Premier referee Charlotte Carpenter was in the middle for the under-15s match, supported by Assistant Referees Michelle Portelli and Jade Plumley. Charlotte’s own refereeing career began at the Academy.
“My first game was an under-9 fixture which definitely felt out of my comfort zone. I received coaching throughout the game and learned a lot. There were many new referees developing at different stages through the academy which created a really good learning environment. We then progressed through the age groups, allowing us to build our experience and confidence. This encouraged a good support network and introduced me to the different leagues the other officials were working in.”
“Ultimately the positive experiences I was exposed to and the support network I was provided with shaped my refereeing early on. It gave me the skills, knowledge and understanding I needed to then progress and contribute to both the local and national game.”
There will certainly be more opportunities for women and girls to follow in Charlotte’s footsteps at the academy. Rob’s aim is to “encourage more all-female events at The Academy and at least a 60/40 gender split across the fixtures in the future.”