Karen Diaz Medina: Refereeing makes you fall in love with the game
As the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf semifinals kick off this week, Assistant Referee Karen Diaz Medina can’t contain her excitement as she travels to Costa Rica to officiate one of the matches, while representing female athletes on the field. Last year, she became the first woman referee to officiate in the second leg of the Liga MX Guard1anes 2020 final between Pumas and Leon. Karen was certified as a FIFA Assistant Referee in 2018 and served in multiple Concacaf tournaments including the Women’s U-17 Championship in Managua, Nicaragua, the Scotiabank Concacaf League, and the Men’s Under-20 Championship in Bradenton Florida. She was also part of the referring team at the 2020 Women’s Olympic Qualifying in Houston, Texas.
Born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Karen speaks about her passion for the game, her dreams, and how the Confederation’s programs are contributing to the development of her career.
How did you start your refereeing career?
One day, while working on a coffee shop of a Little Sports Center, the designated referee did not arrive for the game. The league’s administrator asked me if I wanted to referee the match and I said yes. I liked and enjoyed the experience, I was paid for doing something that I was enjoying a lot. From that moment on, they assigned me more games every week and with the money earned, I was able to pay for college.
Why are you passionate about refereeing?
First of all, because I love football. This is a profession that makes you fall more and more in love every day as each day you can face a new challenge. It is a fantastic experience that involves all your senses in each game.
What are your expectations for the Scotiabank Concacaf League?
First of all, represent in the best way the female referees. Second, thank each and every one of those who trust my work, while delivering good results on the field and through God’s blessing.
How have you continued preparing to referee during Covid-19?
At the beginning of the pandemic, the help and guidance of my National Fitness Coach was essential. He faced the challenge in the best possible way providing online training, daily guidance, and reviews. In addition, Concacaf asked me to participate in the Sports Science program, which offers personalized training at home. Through the program, I covered all my needs as an assistant referee and was able to do the workouts at home or in isolated areas. In the technical arena, the Mexican Referee Commission and Concacaf have helped in my preparation with weekly courses and video analysis.
How has Concacaf helped you develop your career?
Teaching me that I can give more than I can imagine, with constant preparation and updates. The Sports Science program has been a great tool to enhance my physical performance on the field. In addition, Concacaf has allowed me to meet wonderful people beyond borders.
How would you inspire more girls and women to become referees?
I am completely sure that the best way is to continue working hard, day by day, in order to conquer your dreams and showing them that dreams come true if you work hard and love what you do.
Is there any characteristic or component that you can recommend to our young females that has led to your success?
Give yourself the maximum in each game, in each training session, in each classroom session. Also, being open to criticism and advice from those around you and never compare yourself to anyone else, each woman is unique, each referee has unique characteristics that make her special. Trust that your path will always be different from the others because there are moments that you will have to experience to learn from them.
What do you enjoy during your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my niece, watching her grow, and enjoying her life intensely. I also love watching series and meeting my best friends for a fun chat.
What is your biggest dream as a referee?
My biggest dream as a referee is to enjoy each and every one of the games, giving maximum effort when training, presenting tests, or officiating a match. Additionally, being able to have a positive impact on my colleagues, those who I have the blessing of working with and sharing some time.