Referee Georgia Rooney officiating at Brighton Seagals Women FC (blue) v AFC Acorns Women FC DS at Withdean Stadium in Brighton - Credit: Simon Dack

‘Now is the time to get involved’ – Young girls can become top referees says Rooney

FA Referee Developer, Georgia Rooney says that now is the time for young females who are aspiring to be referees to get involved.

Tonight sees an all-English team of officials take charge of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 match between France and Italy at The AESSEAL New York Stadium in Rotherham. Highly-rated referee Rebecca Welch will be assisted by Sian Massey and Lisa Rashid while Lorraine Watson will occupy the fourth official role.

When recently speaking to FAWSL Full-Time, FA Referee Developer Rooney said that young girls can follow their dreams and it is entirely possible to become a top official.

“I keep saying this to all of the young girls, now is the time, it is completely possible if you commit, get your matches in, build your experience and show that you’re dedicated,” Rooney said. “It’s completely possible.

“I’ve gone from starting my journey in 2019 to now, last season I was running the line at National League level. That will only increase next season depending on my own level of commitment – including fitness tests. It is completely possible if you want it. If anyone is thinking about it, now is the time to get involved.”

Rooney was inspired to take up refereeing herself after going out to France to watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019. The idea came about after she noticed the female officials in England’s 1-0 victory over Argentina in Le Havre in the group stage.

She said “I went to Le Havre to see the England and Argentina game and there was the fan zone where I met some ex-players and press. The vibe was so amazing and I quickly developed a sense that I wanted to be part of the women’s game again.

“I didn’t get the opportunities to play when I was younger. I had a feeling that I wanted to be involved in the game but didn’t know how. I realised that there were female match officials at the match and I wondered if I could do that. When I got home, googled ‘referees Brighton’, Sussex County FA came up and Paul Jeffery, the head of refereeing there. He was keen to get me involved because the County FA wanted more female officials.”

After becoming a referee, Rooney quickly moved into a developer role. She now works with some of the up and coming referees in England, providing training and development help and support.

“In referee years, I am relatively young but Paul told me to apply for the job because the role overlaps with my career experience in learning and development – it was a perfect combination,” Rooney said. “I had to go through an interview process – an application form, delivering a presentation of some of the actual training to those who were interviewing me.

“Luckily, I was successful so I’m now part of a team of Referee Developers in Sussex, one of which (Lisa Benn) is a WSL and FIFA referee. I get to go and deliver referee training next to Lisa Benn who is a FIFA-qualified women’s referee so I am learning all of the time as well. There’s the law, applying the law then the discretion of the referee and all of the unpredictable things that can happen on the pitch. So you are always learning as a referee. I am really lucky to have the opportunity to deliver training with Lisa, and with Paul Saunders, Ash Slaughter from Sussex County. They are an experienced and inspirational team who are committed to the game.

“Given the situation with COVID-19, the courses only started up again at the end of last year. We’ve done quite a few and the majority have been men or teenage boys. We have started to run women and girls only courses which has been great.”

You can learn more about Rooney’s story at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Goal Power! Women’s Football 1894-2022 is an exhibition which is currently running at the museum and highlights the pioneers of the women’s game. Discover more about the individual stories at

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial