A Canberran had their debut in the Westfield W-League of a different kind in Round 14, with local Referee Georgia Ghirardello beginning her first ever top flight match in the middle of the park.
The 24-year old has been on the Assistant Referee panel for the Westfield W-League this season but was given control of the Round 14 clash between the Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers at No. 2 Sportsground.
In the process, Ghirardello became Canberra’s first official to be the middle Referee for a Westfield W-League clash and said it was a great experience.
“It was extremely exciting, I was very happy,” she said.
“Better than I could have imagined.”
“I had a lot of adrenaline and excitement for the game which is important I think.”
“It was a good opportunity to put myself in that feeling and enjoy the moment, and I approached it going ‘no matter what happens give it your all and have a good time, you’ve worked so hard to get to this point’ and it was an opportunity I wanted to take.”
Ghirardello began refereeing Futsal in 2007, before undertaking her Level 4 course and overseeing outdoor matches in the 2008 season.
From there she followed the natural progression of courses, honing her experience at different levels of Football and different age grades, and made her debut in the middle of an NPL first grade clash last year as she officiated Belconnen United v Tuggeranong United at McKellar Park in Round three.
Ghirardello joined the Westfield W-League AR panel for the 2017-18 season and was appointed once more in 2018-19. She joined Delfina Dimoski, on the panel since 2013-14, and Nia Southwell (2012-13) in the Westfield W-League and newly-arrived Lauren Hargrave was added this season to bring Canberra’s complement to four.
Ghirardello believes Canberra’s big presence on the panel despite its size on the map is a good indicator of the pathway strength and the environment for training Referees here.
“There are a lot of factors in getting this far, obviously we have to work incredibly hard and it’s very competitive because Canberra is small,” she said.
“But we clearly have a quality group of officials here, and people working hard week in and week out to get where they want to go and achieve their goals and having a supportive group around you helps so much.
“It becomes a lifestyle choice and if you are not surrounded by the right people, people who push you to grow and do a good service for the community and the love of Football then it is tough.”
“We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t love Football, the clubs and the people we interact and engage with every day.”
During Rebel Female Football Week in 2018 the then 23-year old was recognised nationally, named Female Referee of the Year in Australia, and said she was taken aback by the scope of the award.
“Adam and Alasdair nominated me, and then they came to tell me I won at a training session, I just didn’t understand what they meant.”
“I thought it was just locally, I had no idea why so many people congratulated me.”
Regardless, Ghirardello accepted the award and is a firm believer in Rebel Female Football Week and the celebration of Female role models in the sport as it grows.
“It’s just so important for women in Football and the community,” she said this week.
“We can never have too many role models.
“When I came up through the ranks there weren’t as many to look up to, I always looked up to Allyson Flynn but there are so many now at the top of their game for young girls to look up too.
“It’s important to have a role model who you can see yourself in as you grow up, and it is important that we celebrate them and have more people join the game, enjoy the game and have these figures that they can look up to.”
And to anyone thinking of getting involved in Refereeing, Ghirardello advised them to just dive in.
“Just do it! Challenge yourself, and it will teach you a lot of like skills that will set you up for later on. You get to be a part of the great football community and meet some amazing people along the way.”
Are you interested in becoming a Referee? Check out Capital Football’s entry level courses now.