Youth Ambassador for refereeing in Scotland Vicki Allan took her first exam in response to being told women’ don’t referee. Eight years on, she’s a full FIFA official – and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to open up more opportunities for women and girls to referee the game they love!

 

I grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. My mum worked for a football club and my Dad was a football referee. I didn’t really ever play football as I wasn’t very good but when I turned 16 I mentioned to my friend that I was eligible to sit the referee course. Their reply, “but women don’t referee” made me determined to pass the course and prove them wrong! I didn’t ever think I would continue on afterwards, but here we are eight years on!

 

I sat the referee course in 2009 and have progressed through the leagues now to become a FIFA Assistant. It’s my first year with FIFA so I hope to continue to improve and be the best I can be. It plays a massive role when I’m not in my full time job; I eat, sleep and breathe refereeing. I want to create a better environment for younger referees in the future and to help them grow. This is why I also have the women’s support role in my local association and am the Youth Ambassador for refereeing in Scotland!

 

When I began refereeing it was still really unusual to have female referees refereeing men’s matches. Every time I showed up to a ground I was stared at, given a broom cupboard to get changed in as there were no female changing rooms and had sexist comments shouted at me. However, after 10-15 minutes on the pitch I was treated just like everyone else and that’s when I realised I need to get myself out there and show people that we can do it too!

 

People are starting to ‘get used to’ female refs in Scotland, but I wouldn’t say they see us as equals quite yet. One tiny error and immediately you get the “Get back to the kitchen” judgements.

 

I have quite a small family and do think that they were shocked when I asked to referee. My Dad, as a referee himself was very shocked but he has been really supportive - even if he is my toughest critic!

 

Equality for me means being offered the same opportunity as men. I don’t want for us to succeed easier because we are women - I want us to earn it just as equally as the men through being offered the same opportunities.

 

Football has kept me fit and allowed me to make friends all over the world. I’m a stronger and more determined individual as a result of football - and I want others to be able to experience this too. As the Youth Ambassador for refereeing in Scotland one of my main goals over the next two years is to help recruit and retain more female referees. I hope that by taking part in this World Record attempt I can make that happen!

 

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