Sports

Referee bosses hope success of females in France will be catalyst for change

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 11, 2019

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Former Fifa referee Peter Prendergast and head of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) referees department Victor Stewart are optimistic that the success of assistant referees Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing and Princess Brown will be a significant change for referee's development in the country.

Both Brown and Yee Sing continue to be standard-bearers among their local and regional counterparts, and their rapid growth, success, and historic accomplishments is likely to set a precedent for their peers who are still climbing the ladder.

But Prendergast, who is now a Fifa referee instructor, and Stewart, both agreed that significant infrastructural improvements, as well as added investments, will be the only avenue to build on the current platform laid by Brown and Yee Sing.

“The footballing community has to understand that the referees are a part of the game, and as such, we need financial support, we need facilities and we need more people to get involved in refereeing.

“Because without our referees there is no game and that is part of the issue we are having in attracting more people to become referees, and we will have to step that up in order to work on what we have now with the women especially,” Prendergast told journalists shortly after arriving at the Norman Manley International Airport from the Gold Cup in the United States.

Stewart, who was on hand to welcome home the history-making officials at the airport, concurred.

“We want to use it as a way to market the product of refereeing. It's a big challenge for these ladies because their biggest stage locally is the National Premier League, and to have females working in the Premier League is not an easy thing.

“The truth is the female competition doesn't provide much of a challenge and we are indeed grateful for the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) where they get their training on the field. We hope to use this to garner more support for the females and to encourage more female to come into the system,” said Stewart.

Their sentiments came as the football fraternity once again celebrated another major achievement by Brown and Yee Sing, in becoming the first Caribbean officials — male or female —to feature in a semi-final at the Fifa Women's World Cup.

Yee Sing, on debut at the senior level and Brown making only her second appearance, bettered their more experienced colleagues to be a part of the team that officiated in the semi-final contest between Sweden and Netherlands at the recently concluded showpiece in France.

Canada's Marie-Soleil Beaudoin was once again the referee in the middle, creating another historic moment for the trio, who also officiated in the Fifa Under-17 World Cup final in Uruguay last year.

Prior to being awarded one of the two semi-finals, the team officiated three other games — Germany versus China, Norway versus South Korea and France versus Brazil — with some amount of distinction.

Prendergast celebrated Brown and Yee Sing's achievement with great pride.

“They exceeded our expectations, we know that they are excellent assistant referees but what they did on such a big stage [with] all that pressure of a World Cup tournament was just fantastic and we celebrate all that they have done, and celebrate women football and women referees,” he beamed.

“I am going to be very honest, I expected them to do the finals and if France was in the finals, the (Yee Sing and Brown) team would have done the finals, instead of Stephanie (Frappart's) team,” Prendergast added.

Stewart also paid tribute to the assistant referees.

“We are overjoyed and elated with the performance of these two young ladies, we could have seen it coming based on what they have been doing in their preparations to reach this stage. It means a lot for us locally because we want to use this as a platform to market refereeing on a whole in Jamaica, and in particular female refereeing,” Stewart reasoned.


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