New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley, New Zealand assistant referee Sarah Jones and Tongan assistant referee Lata Kaumatule made history when they became the first women to referee a men’s OFC Champions League Finals.
The New Zealand pair, who have officiated at three Women’s World Cups each, were in the match, from Group B, Ifira Black Bird and AS Pirae. Kaumatule was on the touchline for the match, from Group B, of Solomon Warriors and Lupe Ole Soaga
Keighley and Jones sat down with OFC media to reflect on the biggest milestone:
How was the experience?
Anna-Marie Keighley: “It was a great opportunity for us to continue to build towards the FIFA Women’s World Cup (in New Zealand and Australia in July and August). Soccer at Oceania level is another step on our way and it’s different from what we’re used to at home, different from women’s soccer and different when you’re refereeing on the islands when it’s very hot and physically tiring. In general, many new experiences and a great opportunity to continue working and developing the art of arbitration”.
How do male players treat you?
AMK: “To be fair, I think they treat us like any other referee. Going into football at the Oceania level, I wasn’t sure how I would be taken because different countries have different relationships with how they treat women. But yesterday was fine, just like every other game in terms of how they interacted with me. Nothing special”.
Sarah Jones: “We go out there and show them we know what we’re doing, we make the decisions that matter, we make the right decisions, we let them play when it’s just contact and they respect us as referees. They know we can do the job.”
Do you feel like you are breaking a glass ceiling?
AMK: “I guess to a certain extent. I probably haven’t given it much thought but it’s definitely the first time women have refereed in a Champions League finals so I’m quite proud of the opportunity we’ve been given and the fact that we’re here and there is another woman in Group A as well. We are showing that women can operate in the men’s game and that we can be role models for other women in the Pacific. Women’s soccer is growing a lot in all parts of the world and certainly in the Pacific. Hopefully we can inspire more women to get involved in refereeing and show that it’s okay to referee between men and that we can do it and earn a level of respect. So I guess it was a very proud moment, yeah.”
What are your goals in arbitration? What do you still want to achieve?
AMK: “We are both heading into the FIFA Women’s World Cup and I would love to be involved until the end of that tournament. Like any officer who attends those iconic world events, your goal is to be there at the end of the event and still be actively involved in the field. My sights are high, but in saying that, just being part of our third Women’s World Cup is a privilege.”
SJ: “Absolutely excited to be going to a third Women’s World Cup and like Anna, I would love to be there at the end, together! I’m just focused on preparing myself physically and mentally, so I can show that I’m ready for it, I’m an asset, we can work as hard as anybody in the world… and that we’re so good and deserve to be there at the end.”
#Trio #referees #history #OFC #Champions #League