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UEFA's women referees have been in Nyon this week to prepare for forthcoming assignments and gather invaluable expert advice on taking charge of matches in the various European women's championships.
Almost 40 female referees and assistant referees attended discussion sessions and took a fitness test at the Colovray stadium opposite UEFA's House of European Football. The course has also served as a selection process for two women's competitions that are on the summer agenda – the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship and its U19 equivalent.
The sixth UEFA course for international women referees saw the match officials receive the latest FIFA instructions to international referees, and enabled them to demonstrate to UEFA that they had the fitness to referee international matches. "If you are not fit, you don't have the necessary self-confidence," UEFA Referees Committee member Bo Karlsson told participants.
Fitness goes hand in hand with injury prevention, and the referees were given an important insight into this crucial part of their job by physiotherapist Xavier Dallemagne, who works closely with UEFA. "There is nothing more annoying than looking forward to an assignment and then suffering an injury – it's important you look at ways of stopping certain injuries happening," said Karlsson.
Women referees need to be familiar with the trends in women's football – in particular the tactical trends, as the female game improves in this area from year to year. The course reviewed the developments that emerged at the very highest women's football level, last year's UEFA European Women's Championship final round in Finland.
Reading the game, punishment steps, the advantage rule, dealing with situations when players are injured, dissent, handball, positioning and movement, teamwork between referees and assistants: these are essential components of refereeing and the decision-making process for a team of officials. The delegates examined all these key aspects in practical and discussion sessions that also made use of video clips to highlight salient points.
English has become the common language in European refereeing, and the match officials were appraised of the need to be able to communicate adequately in English – particularly in compiling reports for UEFA, as such reports may constitute the only record of a match.
Finally, the course gave the referees the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas, with the creation of a women's referee network involving UEFA, the match officials and the relevant national association bodies a key plan for the future as the women's refereeing sector grows in significance.