Raider in the Spotlight – Annie Whale

Each month we  highlight the contribution of a member of Raiders that works to ensure the club continues to offer fantastic coaching and playing opportunities in the community.

This month we interviewed Annie Whale who is the first qualified female youth referee within Berkhamsted Raiders.

Q1. How long have you been involved with Raiders?

I have been involved with Raiders for 6 years and am playing my 7th season this year. I started as an U9 where there weren’t many girls playing. The astro was very quiet with not many girls playing on it, unlike now where it is full and lively!

Q2. Why did you decide you wanted to be a referee?

I was first intrigued about refereeing when I was about 11. I always found if interesting seeing football from another perspective but officially decided I wanted to be a referee when I turned 14. This was when I was old enough to be a referee and wanted to start to earn a little money.
Q3. What was involved and how long did ti take to become qualified?
Firstly I had to go on a 3 day intensive training course with other aspiring referees where we were taught the laws of the game, positioning and what to do in real life situations. At the end of the course we all did a test covering everything we had learnt and pass a certain mark. After passing I had to referee 5 offside matches and 3 of these were mentored by a volunteer from Hertfordshire FA. However I did lots of U9 and U8 matches to get some practise and confidence. I did 8 non offside matches before I started my official ones. It took 4 months in total. At the end I had to go to a meeting with other referees and talk about our experiences. We finally got our badges and were fully qualified.
Q4. What have been the most enjoyable parts of doing it?
The most enjoyable parts of doing it have been to finally getting qualified and finishing my course. They were both milestones that meant I could finally recognise the achievements I had made!
Q5. What issues or challenges have you experienced?
I haven’t faced any major challenges yet but some small ones have happened. At the start of my refereeing I was very nervous the week leading up to the games and was very anxious in the morning beforehand, this led to me not fully enjoying it. However I soon overcame my fear and started to become not so nervous.
Q6. Do you have any practical advice for other aspiring parent or youth referees?
My main advice is to be prepared for every match beforehand. It is very important before deciding to be a referee that you are willing to put in time and effort into your refereeing. Before every match you need to double check you know everything in your bag as if you foregt anything it can be a problem.
Q7. Who are your sporting role models?
I do not have any particular sporting role models but any powerful sporting women inspire me to try harder and improve. My team mates and peers also are great role models for me and motivate me to do my best.
Q8. What would you like to achieve as a referee?
I feel like I have achieved a lot already but want to keep continuing to grow my confidence. It hasn’t just changed on the pitch it has also changed my school and social life. As I am on the pitch by myself I need to be confident and have to control the match. This has already carried on since qualifying but I want to grow my confidence even more.
Q9. What’s your view on the application of VAR in the Premier League this year?
I do not have a strong view on the application of VAR this year but I would say being a referee it is hard to call every decision. Even though it might not be the fans favorite thing I think it is important to call as many decisions right as possible. Also having technology helping the referees and the assistants puts less pressure on them.

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