Emily Aldridge is a dedicated female referee in Staffordshire who has been refereeing for about eight years now.
Emily's journey as a referee began in 2014. She started off refereeing youth football matches for under-12s to under-16s and then progressed to refereeing men’s and women's football matches on Saturdays and Sundays.
Emily's passion for football began at a young age, and she used to play the sport. However, when she turned 16, there was a lack of opportunities for females in football, and it became challenging to progress to women's teams. But Emily didn't want to leave football altogether, so she decided to become a referee.
"I wanted to stay involved in football, and I was at that age where you are looking for a job, so I thought refereeing would be the perfect fit," Emily says.
Emily's dedication to refereeing has taken her on a journey from Staffordshire to Manchester, where she continued to referee while studying at university, and then back to Staffordshire. She has seen the growth of female referees in the county, and though male referees still outweigh women, she's pleased to see an increase in the number of female referees.
"The players have respect for you, and you can still have the banter. There's a lot of people you can meet and see how other people handle things," Emily says.
Emily's love for the game has driven her to progress in refereeing, and next season she plans to go for promotion. She believes that there's a lot of potential in refereeing and advises aspiring referees to commit to their decisions, express why they made the decision, and not let other people sway them. She also encourages aspiring referees to talk to other referees and get involved with development groups and referee associations.
Emily's hard work and dedication has paid off, and she has been appointed to referee the Women’s Challenge Cup Final on Tuesday 4th April, a significant achievement for any referee.
Emily's story is an inspiration for aspiring referees, especially female referees who might be hesitant to take up the profession. Emily's passion for football, commitment to refereeing, and willingness to learn and grow have enabled her to succeed in a male-dominated field. Emily's journey shows that with hard work, dedication, and a love for the game, anyone can become a successful referee.