18 women graduate as futsal referees

By Ayesha Abdeen
The Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF) in partnership with the FA, Kick it Out and the Asian & Muslim Women and Girls group hosted the UK’s first female only level one Futsal refereeing course on July 24. Eighteen women of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds participated in the course held in London which was specially designed to cater to religious and cultural sensitivities.
The course, led by Lorraine Deschamps, one of only two female level four qualified referee tutors in the UK, is normally held over two days. However, following consultation with the MWSF, it was redesigned to take place over a single day and is an example of one of the many strategies being implemented by the FA showing their ongoing commitment to increasing the number of black and minority ethnic (BME) women involved in football.
Commenting on the day Deschamps said, “I am so impressed by the level of preparation, commitment and attention I got from the group…It was always going to be a huge challenge – getting across the sheer volume of knowledge and skills required in the very short time frame, but with their attitude and application, the ladies made it an extremely productive and enjoyable day. They did all of their pre-session reading, and all participated fully in both the classroom and the practical sessions, as I had asked them to. I couldn’t have asked for a better group – the structure worked well because they worked with me to make it work.”
Chair of the MWSF and member of the FA Race Equality Advisory Group (REAG), Rimla Akhtar, added, “Eighteen female referees is totally unheard of, yet to have so many women from the Muslim community making this event so successful was a delight to see. Every woman on this course is now going to make a difference to the football community here in the UK and, hopefully, beyond by taking their newly acquired skills back to their local communities and being an inspiration to those around them.”
Later this year on October 16 the MWSF together with its partners will be hosting their annual women’s only Futsal Festival tournament with an anticipated sixteen community teams participating. With an event of such large scale, the newly qualified female referees are most welcomed and no one is more pleased than Lily Frederick, Project Co-ordinator for the MWSF. “Up until this course there were only four FA affiliated female futsal referees in the country. This made it very difficult for us to organise FA sanctioned competitions. However, the success of this course now means there are a further eighteen qualified women we can call upon enabling our Futsal Festival to be the best and biggest ever held.”
Plans to hold another female only futsal refereeing course in Birmingham in September are currently being discussed. Ladies wishing to participate should contact Lily Frederick on             020 8427 0873       or email lily.frederick@mwsf.org.uk to register their interest. For further information about the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation visit www.mwsf.org.uk