I Can Ref: Christine Forsythe
So Christine, tell us about how and why you got involved in Refereeing?
I got into refereeing very late (in my 40s). My sons started playing football which I was helping to coach, I started to referee their 7 v 7 games, but I had no interest in the 11-a-side game until no one else wanted to do it. I took the course because someone else I knew was. That was in November 2011, 6 weeks on a cold Monday evening, I loved it. The tutor and speakers were excellent, I was hooked, but I was only ever going to do junior games at the time. I then met a couple of level 4 referees who pushed for me to referee open age and go for promotion. The first league game I did was on my birthday and it went really well and I haven’t looked back.
What do you enjoy about Refereeing?
I never thought I would be doing this at all. I fell into refereeing, no other reason, would I have chosen to do it without my history? No. Do I love it? Yes, well most of the time! It keeps me active, I like the support, the friendships and the camaraderie. I particularly like the fact I can give something back now to those just starting out.
What are your greatest achievements in Refereeing?
I’ve had quite a few in my short career.
- My first promotion from 7 to 6
- First female to officiate a Heavy Woollen District Cup Final
- First league cup final in my first year of open age
- Appointment to the Women’s County Cup Final
- 4th official at St Georges Park
- Assistant Referee on the FA Women’s Youth Cup Final
- Appointments in the early rounds of FA Cup competitions
What is your best memory of Refereeing?
Being able to set foot on the field of play and blow that whistle the week after a game that has not gone so well, thinking yes, I can do this and succeeding.
What are your goals in the sport?
I did not have any goals when I started as I had no expectations. I just want to continue doing a good job out there whilst I can. I am looking at slowing it down soon and want to pick up more on the mentoring side, particularly for other female officials and help them to get as far as they can.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in the game?
Managers and some players who give you abuse as soon as the game starts are obstacles you have to deal with. Having the tools in the bag to be able to deal with it is important.
Who’s had the biggest influence in your Refereeing career and why?
Brian Hamilton, the tutor on the course who kept me hooked. Eddie Stapleton and Steve Lynch who took me under their wing, without their guidance and support I would not have had all the success I have had. Gav Hock, training pushing yourself to achieve. Ricky Taylor, John Byrne, Dave Fuller and others at Heavy Woollen RA. Of course, Mark at West Riding FA for his support and faith in me. Plus all the refereeing fraternity because without the support of others you cannot do this.
What advice would you give to young people wishing to get involved in Refereeing?
Join your local RA, join the groups West Riding FA invite you to. Do not think you know it all just because you have passed the course, you can always learn from every game and other referees. Take on board advice you are given, that way you can and will improve. Above all enjoy your games, smile, take deep breaths, stand tall, be confident, go on blow that whistle, lets go to work!