Supporting Young Female Referees To Reach Prestige Positions

Supporting Young Female Referees To Reach Prestige Positions

In this Blog, I’d like to write about a concept called “Prestige Positions.” I’ll share with you a story that I think you’ll find incredibly valuable.

I was speaking with one of my referee clients who I have been working with for quite a while. She’s 20 years old, and after some trial appointments, has been promoted to become a full time official in the semi-professional game. I know some of you are probably thinking that’s not even possible, I didn’t think it was possible for her to climb the ladder so quickly. What I’ve learned is that some leagues allow referees from the level below to have trial games. So, as a 20 year old, she made her semi-professional debut. Very impressive. She was only the second female official in history of the league.

This was very exciting, however, she was dealing with some challenges. When I was speaking with her we discovered that when you are successful, when you have achievements:

  • You’re going to have people that judge you.

  • You’re going to have people that doubt you.

  • You’re going to face jealousy.

  • You’re going to face criticism.

You’re going to have people that don’t understand how you achieved what you’ve achieved and perhaps feel as if they are inferior and subconsciously, they’re going to want to see you fail. In other words, the more successful you become, the more challenges that you’re going to face.

That’s Why I Call This A Prestige Position

My discussions with my female client were along the lines of: “You’ve been working towards this since you first qualified. You’ve been working so hard to be in this position. These challenges only come to the people that are very successful at what they do.” When we see it in this way, we can label it quite differently. This allows us to handle these situations quite differently. When you’re very successful like this and you have these doubters and those who’re jealous, and you have the judgment from some people around you, this is really a complement. Now you get to experience and you have the opportunity to gain a greater insight into what it’s like to be successful at a higher level.

If you look at the best referees in the world, Michael Oliver, Rebecca Welch, Clément Turpin, they still get criticised by millions of people. They still face jealousy and judgment at their fixtures aimed at wearing them down. You could be the best in the world and you’re still going to face a lot of criticism. If you’re a young official, this is really good preparation for the increasing levels of professionalism the higher you go.

Challenges For Young Female Referees

The other thing that’s really important to know about this is that if you’re a young referee, particularly a young female, this process brings additional pressures. Why? When you’re a young person in this age group, the social elements of your life are exceptionally heightened. In other words, during university age years, you’re very conscious of what’s going around you. Talking with this young female official, it became evident that this is especially true with females.

Psychologically, behaviorally, biologically, we are wired to act in this way. We are wired to be conscious of what’s going around us, socially, during this age range. This is the time in which we’re growing, developing, becoming independent, and finding our place in the world. The reason why I’m bringing this up is because there’s extra pressure that’s going to come with being successful during this period of time in your life. It’s just another way of understanding what’s going on if you’re in these types of situations.

Final Reflections

My final thought is that if you’re a referee that has high aspirations, if you’re an official that has lofty goals and wants to achieve greatness; When you consciously and subconsciously set those highest aspirations, these types of challenges are going to come onto your path to test you.


If you set your intentions on your goals, you’re going to have to face the challenges that are going to sharpen your character and that will ultimately prepare you for those great achievements.

My female client wants to, ultimately, reach the professional game. I said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that the challenges you’re facing now, the judgment, the criticism, and the jealousy, this process and experiencing this is going to prepare you for your ultimate goal. It’s going to build up your resilience, this is part of what drives you and what will allow you to handle the adversities and obstacles ahead, in the future.”

Mentally, it’s important if you’re in this type of situation, to rationalise the fact that this is the nature of success and you need to accept it, and take it on. What’s important is you put your blinkers on, you block out the noise and you focus on your goals. You focus on conditioning yourself. As soon as you blow the first whistle, you can totally immerse yourself in your games.

Your Circle

The remaining thing that I’ll mention is that during this period of time, it’s extremely important that you bond with the people that are close to you. You make your circle small. You stay connected and close to your family, your closest friends and colleagues. Keep those bonds strong, and don’t be afraid to express some of the challenges you’re experiencing through this journey.

I hope you found value in this Blog.

At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops and 1-2-1 sessions associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops and 1-2-1 sessions are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help themselves and each other.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops or 1-2-1 sessions and how I could help you or your officials.

Best Wishes,

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Nathan Sherratt

Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team

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Nathan Sherratt

Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team.  A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in Tyne & Wear, North East England.