Capital Football referees inspired by home World Cup

Capital Football are hoping more referees will join Georgia Ghirardello and Elise Fisher this season. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Capital Football are hoping more referees will join Georgia Ghirardello and Elise Fisher this season. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

More than 1 billion eyes will be on the Matildas at the 2023 Women's World Cup, but for Canberra referee Georgia Ghirardello the tournament will showcase more than just Australia's best players.

The world's top female referees will be front and centre of all matches played across Australia and New Zealand.

The 2023 World Cup will be the biggest in women's soccer history.

With FIFA expanding the competition to 32 teams, the number of referees is also expected to increase.

FIFA have had a female-only rule for referees in the women's game since 1995, providing opportunities for Australians Tammy Ogston, Casey Reibelt and Kate Jacewicz.

Ghirardello officiates in the W-League and hopes to follow in their footsteps, saying it's her dream to become a World Cup referee.

"Ultimately I'd love to participate in a World Cup myself. If it's as a spectator in Australia and New Zealand then perfect. If it's a few years later after that to go to a World Cup, then that's the dream for a lot of us," Ghirardello said.

"We've already produced some world-class referees throughout the years.

"Two of our best referees went to last year's World Cup, Reibelt and Jacewicz, who was the first female referee to be in the middle for the A-League.

"When the World Cup comes here, we will have the best players and the best referees to watch for several weeks. Our girls on the FIFA panel are living their dream, living a lot of our dreams.

Capital Football referees Elise Fisher and Georgia Ghirardello. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Capital Football referees Elise Fisher and Georgia Ghirardello. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"Just having the World Cup coming to Australia and New Zealand will be an unforgettable moment for everyone in the community."

The 25-year-old has 13 years of experience and became Canberra's first official to be the middle referee in the W-League last season.

She is looking forward to the start of Capital Football's National Premier League season, which kicks off on Saturday, July 18.

Capital Football will launch a referee recruitment campaign this week to encourage more people to officiate the shortened season.

Referee numbers are low in Canberra and Capital Football boss Phil Brown hopes the campaign will help bolster their ranks to supply enough to cover all matches.

"We don't have enough referees to service all the competitions we have," Brown said.

"Wouldn't it be a great outcome for us to have one referee at every game played on the weekend?"

"It's important for us to invest time and resources into a recruitment campaign so we can help build those numbers to ensure people playing have a better game experience.

"It's a great chance to not only have a go and see what it's like to referee and help the local community, but also to earn a little bit of money."

Capital Football will hold introductory courses for MiniRoos 'game leaders' and 11-a-side referees, as well as seminars for current officials to help improve their skills.

Cadet referee Elise Fisher is going into her fourth season as an official and encouraged interested Canberrans to give it a try.

"What I enjoy about refereeing is the experience you get from it and the life lessons," Fisher said.

"You also meet some really amazing people and lifelong friends.

"I'd say to people to just stick with it and not to lose your confidence with spectators or those who don't believe in you.

"Stay true to yourself and if it's something you're interested in then pursue it."

This story Referees whistle to a World Cup tune first appeared on The Canberra Times.