iCanRef: Emma Taylor
Tell us about how you got involved in refereeing?
I started my refereeing journey at 15 years old. It was a cold February in 2015 when my adventure began. I first went on my refereeing course at West Riding County FA to take on a new challenge. I wanted to learn more about the football as a game, from a different perspective. The knowledge and experiences shared on the course by the tutors always appealed to me. I remember feeling so intrigued and raring to go with my six games to do before my qualification was complete. I officiated these games at Brighouse Juniors where I started off my playing career.
What do you enjoy about refereeing?
I enjoy refereeing for so many different reasons. From a young age I have always liked a challenge. I was always that girl who did the opposite of what everyone else would be doing. I get asked numerous times “why do you choose to referee?”. I choose to referee week in week out because of my love for the game. For me it is the best job in the world and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
As a referee I have always felt like I have been part of a team. The support from other referee colleagues is exceptional. I meet new people, with new stories on a weekly basis. Working with other people allows me to learn and develop. I hope to be able to pass on everything I have learnt so far to new, upcoming officials and inspire those who haven’t yet started.
The rewards as a referee are endless. You get out what you put in. For me the best rewards are the interaction with other referees, having the best coaches to guide you through your season and working hard for the best match appointments possible.
What are your greatest achievements in refereeing and why?
- Gaining my place on the National CORE (Centre of Refereeing Excellence).
- Two consecutive County Cup Finals.
- Officiating in the early rounds of the FA cup & FA youth cup.
- Refereeing in the FA academies youth tournament.
- Gaining promotion.
What is your best memory of refereeing?
My best memory of being a referee was my trip to Denmark in July 2019. I came home from the Dana Cup a different referee for so many positive reasons. I felt like the 5 days of officiating transformed me to be more confident in my ability. I learnt from some amazing referees from all over the globe but also from different playing styles each team brought to the tournament. I was fortunate enough to find myself as the Referee on the Girls U13s final which I did not expect in my first year at the tournament.
If you ever have the opportunity to do a tournament abroad…Get involved! You will not regret it.
What are your goals in the sport?
When I started, I had no idea where I wanted to end up in this crazy adventure and I still don’t. I had no expectations five years ago but I can’t wait to see where the journey takes me.
My short-term goals would be to secure my promotion at the end of the season. Long term goals I would love to be the first Female Referee on the Premier League and I would love to officiate in the Women’s World Cup.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in football?
My biggest obstacle would be dealing with the sexist comments. Its not what people say that is upsetting it’s the fact they think they can get away with it. Luckily, I am quite a thick-skinned person so I take what people say with a pinch of salt. Having the support from The FA and other match officials is a reassuring feeling.
Before anyone makes a comment towards a match official all I would ask is: Would they be willing to do our job? And for them to remember we are only human. Everyone makes mistakes, we learn from them.
Who’s had the biggest influence in your refereeing career and why?
My biggest influence in my career so far would be Mark Haywood. From the get go Mark has supported me through everything I have done. He is an amazing coach, friend and has always ensured he goes above and beyond to help me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if he hadn’t have given me the time or the support.
Jimmy Price and Colin Woods are another two others who have inspired and influenced me. Both have taken me under their wing and with their support also, I wouldn’t be doing the games I am lucky enough to be appointed to.
What advice would you give to people wishing to get involved in refereeing?
The advice I would give to anyone who wants to start refereeing would be DO IT! Take on advice, criticism, learn from each game and do not be afraid to ask question. The support is there for you to utilise if you want it. West Riding County FA is the best to be a part of (not biased at all) the guys work so hard to make sure everyone has the help they need. We are all ready to help you in your journey! What’s stopping you?