Referee Sophie Dennington pictured during the Barclays FA Women's Championship match between Coventry United and Bristol City

Female-only Referee Course - April 2024

"With the growth in women and girls' football, there has never been a better time to get involved in refereeing."

Gloucestershire FA recently hosted a female-only referee course, where 17 candidates have taken their first steps into refereeing.

The course was held across two days at Balcarras School in Cheltenham, with candidates from the school taking part as part of a project between the school, Gloucestershire FA and Move More, a charity who deliver PE and School Sport provisions in Primary Schools across Cheltenham and Tewkesbury.

The candidates attended the course having already completed their online Laws of the Game learning and expanded on their basic knowledge with a series of indoor and outdoor sessions. The sessions were delivered by GFA Equality & Workforce Development Manager, Sam Myatt alongside fellow FA Referee Developers, Megan Harley-Buller and Ella Broad, who were both able to share their experiences of their refereeing journeys throughout the two days.

Referee Developer and Football Services Officer (Referees) for Wiltshire FA, Ella Broad: "I was very pleased and accepted the opportunity straight away. It was great to see the engagement and enthusiasm from the girls throughout the course, I look forward to seeing to seeing them progress throughout their refereeing careers and wish them all the best for the future."

‘It was great to be involved with the female-only referee course with GFA and for the next generation to come through," added Megan Harley-Buller, who as well as being a Referee Developer also works as an Investigation Officer for London FA. "It also showed to those on the course, representation of other female Referees and the roles and achievements that they have made since. When I first qualified as a Referee, there was only one other female Referee in the County. There are now numerous Female Referees that are operating at the highest standards and levels, which will hopefully drive even more females to take the Referees course."

With 17 candidates completing the course and being registered as Trainee referees, they represent a 47% increase in the number of female referees registered in the county.

Equality & Workforce Development Manager, Sam Myatt, said that "it was great to see a room full of females talking all things football and in particular refereeing. With the growth in women and girls' football, there has never been a better time to get involved in refereeing as the opportunities and support are now available for them to reach the elite levels of the game."

The GFA would like to thank Move More for their support on this event. Callum Smith, Physical Activity and Health Manager for Move More had this to say: "Move More were interested in hosting the project due to being the strategic lead in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury for the Barclays Girls’ Football School Partnership by England Football, with the aim of the project being to ensure equality for all in school football by the end of 2024. The aim of the project for us was to promote female role models in schools to inspire younger children to get active, whilst also promoting a first role in football for those who potentially wish to work in the industry!"

The FA released their first Refereeing Strategy in July 2023 which was titled ‘To Grow, Guide and Govern.’ One of the aims of the strategy is to make refereeing more inclusive, with a commitment of a 50% increase in the number of female officials nationally by the end of the strategy in 2026.

To find out more about the FA Referee Course, you can visit our page on the Gloucestershire FA website by clicking here. To register your interest in future courses, you can register your interest via our online expression of interest form.

For further information, or if you have any questions, you can contact the team at the Gloucestershire FA via email: