MIAMI.- United States referee Natalie Simon is one of the 12 participants in the Concacaf Program of Refereeing Excellence (PORE). The initiative is taking place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida ahead of the Concacaf Boys’ Under-15 Championship and consists of a second 3-week course involving daily on-field training sessions, classes, refereeing in games and fitness tests. Simon is no a stranger to refereeing and she talks with excitement about her involvement in the program.
Football has been a huge part of my life and the experiences I’ve had through this game have been unforgettable. I’ve made so many friends over the years and have been able to travel to places that I’ve never been because of football.
Becoming a referee
My primary motivation for becoming a referee was to stay close to the game. My passion for football has been strong throughout my entire life and refereeing has taken my love for the game to the next level because I see and experience the game in a different way now. I became a referee shortly after I completed my college playing career. My assistant coach in college was a national assessor and would always tell me that I would make a great referee because I was such a difficult player for the referees to manage.
Tips for becoming a referee
Being a referee requires courage and perseverance. Courage to make big, game critical decisions under immense pressure and perseverance to continue to work towards your goals even after disappointments and adversity.
More participation of women in football
The key to increased participation of women in football is having the support of the administration in their country or state and more opportunities to become involved. There are a plenty of women who have played the game and are now refereeing; they just need the same opportunities as their male counterparts to showcase their talents on the field. Ensuring that women can develop their refereeing abilities in a safe environment is crucial to encouraging them to stay close to the game as well. Different leagues and countries are more progressive than others, but I think we are headed in the right direction.
Expectations of participating in the Program for Refereeing Excellence (PORE)
My expectations for the PORE program are to continue to grow and develop as a referee. PORE has allowed me to be immersed in an atmosphere where I’m surrounded by fellow referees who are all working towards the same goal. The training we’ve received has been an invaluable and an unforgettable experience. PORE has not only taught me crucial skills for being a better official but has also provided me the opportunity to grow as a person.
In 4-5 years, I hope to have my FIFA badge and the opportunity to officiate a major FIFA or Concacaf tournament.