Edinburgh's amateur football bosses launch campaign to attract more female referees

The five week course will be free for women in a bid to increase diversity of match officials in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 6:00 am
Vikki Allan started off as an amateur football referee in high school but has since climbed the ladder to officiate WSPL games as well as Womens European and World Cup qualifiers - adding televised matches to her CV in the process.

Amateur football bosses in the Capital have launched a campaign to attract more female referees to take the charge of the beautiful game.

Edinburgh and District are advertising for women who are interested in becoming qualified referees to attend a five week class that begins on February 2 and runs until March 1.

The course will be free for females, but will cost £35 for adult males and £15 for concessions which include students and the unemployed. Those who pay the fee will also receive a season membership with the SFA that will have to be renewed annually.

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Entrants will learn the basic laws of the game in the first couple of weeks, before exploring more interactive classes in weeks three and four by examining controversial decisions from recent high profile games, as well as learning how to handle controversial hot topics. In week five of the course an exam will take place and those who pass will become qualified referees who are able to officiate at the amateur level.

Classes will take place every Sunday from 10am to 4pm and will take place at the Oriam, Heriot-Watt University. Those interested are encouraged to apply through the SFA website.

Vikki Allan, 27, secretary and head of women’s team SFAR for Edinburgh and District, said: “The course is for anyone who would like to learn about the rules of the game or to become a qualified referee at the amateur level. There is also scope for those who pass the course to take further qualifications to climb the ladder.”

She added: “An older woman took part in a previous course and was interested in learning the rules of the game to become a referee because her kids were involved at the grassroots level.”

Campaign to boost diversity

Women have been offered free entry as part of a campaign to increase the diversity of match officials in the Capital, Lothians and Borders.

The move to increase the amount of women officiating matches in Edinburgh and district comes off the back of a brilliant year for women’s football in 2019. Classes will run across the other 11 districts in Scotland along similar lines.

Since 2016, there has been an increase of 36 percent in female refs being qualified to officiate matches across ScotlandIn 2015, a women’s head of refereeing was put in place to help encourage more females to get involved as refs as well as to build the skills of those who were already involved in the sport.

Anyone who is interested in the course but would like to learn at a more steady pace is welcome to apply to classes that begin in August at the Oriam, Heriot-Watt. The classes run once a week for two hours over a ten week period and normally take place on a midweek evening.

Case Study

Vikki Allan started off as an amateur football referee in high school but has since climbed the ladder to officiate WSPL games as well as Women’s European and World Cup qualifiers - adding televised matches to her CV in the process.

She said: “I began officiating football games from about the age of 16 after following my father’s career as a young child. He has been a UEFA certified official for a number of years now, officiating several big games across Scotland and Europe. Although I mustn’t let him take all the credit, as my mother was involved in the administration side of the game, working across Edinburgh’s divide at both Hearts and Hibs.

“I remember being motivated initially by a challenge from a fellow male student at Craigmount who said, ‘girls can’t referee,’ it was then I decided I would prove him wrong.

“For a young student going through high school, the money that you can earn from officiating on weekends is substantial. And it can be a building block for progressing your career as a referee. I have been to Africa and the Middle East as part of my work in the past as a Youth Ambassador.

“Although the journey has been difficult and continues to challenge me in most aspects of my life and career within the SFA. We have to train all week, whether that be hill sprinting up the Pentlands or general gym work. Then you have your association training that allows us to continue to develop as officials.”

Women just have to keep progressing, keep supporting and keep working hard to help bring equality to women in football.