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FAW launches referee academy for women and girls

On the eve of Welsh Referee Cheryl Foster’s World Cup debut on Monday July 24, the Football Association of Wales launched its referee academy for women and girls.

Through FIFA funding, the Adran Leagues Referee Academy is a targeted programme that will recruit and develop referees to effectively service the rapidly growing women’s game with match officials. The Adran U19s league will be utilised as a development platform for referees as well as players.

Over 100 women and girls have signed up to the induction workshops so far. With only 50 women referees in the whole of Wales it highlights the importance of having bespoke programmes to encourage more women referees into the game.

Having visible role models officiating on the world stage is key, which can be seen through the positive response to the launch of the Adran Leagues Referee Academy following Cheryl Foster’s first appearance at the World Cup.

The success of Welsh women match officials continues to grow with Foster having officiated her second game of the World Cup on Saturday 29 July. Foster has been appointed her third match at the World Cup on Saturday 5 August for Switzerland and Spain’s Round of 16 match.

Ceri Williams was also in action last weekend as she was appointed as an Assistant Referee for the UEFA Women’s U19 EURO Final on Sunday 30 July.

Speaking on the Adran Leagues Referee Academy, Williams said: “The important thing with something like this is that we’re trying to grow the leagues, we’re trying to grow the women’s game and we want referees to want to referee women’s football.

“The experience women have and the challenges they have with their fitness are completely different to those of men. Everything in refereeing is tailored to men but that doesn’t work for women. We want to create an environment where women and girls feel supported and get the coaching that they need.”

FAW Head of Women and Girls Football, Lowri Roberts, said: “Girls make up 14% of the total participation numbers in Wales, 10% of the coaches in Wales but only 5% of match officials which has led us to develop this targeted plan to increase the number of women referees.

“The bespoke mentoring and training programme will be built around the needs of our referees. In order to professionalise our Adran Leagues, we need to develop all areas of the game and we hope this programme will find us the next Cheryl Foster and Charlotte Carpenter.”