Kathryn Nesbitt: Referees are inspiring, passionate and dedicated to the game



Kathryn Nesbitt: Referees are inspiring, passionate and dedicated to the game


As Alajuelense and Deportivo Saprissa from Costa Rica clash today at Estadio.

Alejandro Morera Soto to define the champion of the Scotiabank Concacaf League, Kathryn Nesbitt is preparing to serve as Assistant Referee 2 for the first time in the competition’s final. Kathryn, who last year was named the 2020 MLS Assistant Referee of the Year, became the first woman official to earn this recognition, in any of the five North American men’s professional sports leagues.

The referee, who was chosen for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, has been appointed to multiple Concacaf tournaments including the 2016 and 2020 Concacaf Women's Olympics Qualifiers. Speaking to Concacaf.com, Kathryn says she is honored to represent the Confederation and being able to officiate men’s and women’s matches.

How did you start your refereeing career?
I played football growing up and so did my brother. While watching one of his matches, the referee asked if I would help call out of bounds during the game. Afterwards, he suggested I take the referee course. I did and started refereeing as a summer job when I was 14. It kept me active and involved in the sport.

Why are you passionate about refereeing?
I am passionate about football. I very much enjoy the analytical natural of refereeing the game as well as the athleticism and teamwork involved. Refereeing feeds into my desire to improve and my drive to be the best I can. 

What are your expectations for the Scotiabank Concacaf League match?
I expect this match to be competitive and full of enthusiasm. It will be energic with a high tempo style of play and will require referees to be prepared and work hard.

How have you continued preparing to referee during Covid-19?
Covid-19 has caused many of us to have to change how we train and prepare for refereeing. I continue to train physically outside in my neighborhood and with the limited gym equipment, I have at home. Concacaf has kept us engaged in bi-monthly virtual seminars to discuss clips as a group and continue to learn together. The Confederation has shared weekly clips for us to analyze. This has kept us motivated and prepared for matches. I have also been fortunate to be able to work matches in the United States since July which has helped keep me sharp.

What is your biggest dream as a referee?
My biggest dream is to represent referees and women at the highest level on the best match I can do.

How has Concacaf helped you develop your career?
Concacaf has helped me to be exposed to new styles of play, new environments, and to have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of officials. The Refereeing Department has always expected excellence. It has challenged me with different matches and given me the support needed to succeed.

How would you inspire more girls and women to become referees?
The refereeing community is an inspiring group of people with passion, dedication, and a love for football. Refereeing has given me the opportunity to travel around the world and meet incredible new people that share my passions. Refereeing isn’t just a hobby; it is an opportunity to gain diverse experiences and expose yourself to new and different environments. It has made me more cultured and appreciative of the important things in life.

Is there any one characteristic or component that you can recommend to our young females that have led to your success?
I would recommend always having a high level of preparation. That includes mentally and physically being ready for the next match, seminar, and activity. If your goal is to pass the next level fitness test, then train at an even higher standard so that you are overly prepared. This kind of preparation means dedication, passion, and sacrifices. Take things one at a time and achieve small goals along the way to make your dreams come true.

What do you enjoy during your free time?
In my free time I enjoy reading, playing guitar, and spending time with my family and friends.