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Female referees reaching new heights

Jones is the first New Zealand woman to officiate in the A-League, while Keighley is only the second woman to be named to officiate in the men’s Premiership.
Keighley and Jones have climbed up the ranks in the Oceania region, showing their ability as match officials at the 2016 OFC Champions League Preliminary and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Keighley was also a match official for the 2015 OFC U-17 Men’s Championship held in American Samoa last year.
OFC Head of Referees Department Kevin Stoltenkamp is confident their achievements will spark a passion for refereeing in other women throughout the Oceania region.
“This will be great for the future development of female referees in Oceania”, he said.
“I think after seeing what female referees are capable of achieving, we will start to see a lot more women and young girls in the region take an interest in the role,” he added.
“The talent they both showcased on the world stage at the Olympics, along with Tonga’s Lata Kaumatule, will also contribute to this. They have shown young athletes a different way to be a part of world football.”
Jones has been an assistant referee in the New Zealand Men’s National League for two seasons and is looking forward to joining Australasia’s biggest football competition and a fully professional league.
“It will be great for my future development and especially leading up to my international appointments to have that experience under my belt,” Jones said.
“Keeping up with the speed of the game will be my main focus. I want to be able to make the step up successfully and to be able to make those key decisions,” she added.
Keighley has refereed in different countries around the world but is looking forward to finally reaching the men’s Premiership.
“It has been a goal for a little while now so to break ground for myself and get to the top league in New Zealand is awesome,” Keighley said.
“Being exposed to more regular quality football that has structure and player management that I have developed in my trade, having the ability to do that more regularly is going to be beneficial to my career.”
The pair hope their recent career success inspires other women to pursue professional refereeing and have the confidence to strive in the sports industry.
“I would definitely like to see myself as a role model and to show them that anyone can do it. If you have the motivation and dedication to do it then you will make it,” Jones said.
“Set goals for yourself, and if you’re prepared to put in the hard yards then you will reap the benefits. I’m dedicated in doing my fitness, training and theoretical side of it so if you push yourself then nothing should stand in your way. Having the ability obviously helps, but the main thing is to keep motivated,” she added.
Keighley is pleased to pave the way for female referees in the region and hopes to see more women follow her and Jones and pursue refereeing professionally.
“There is a massive opportunity for women in refereeing, there is a great pathway there. We don’t have enough officials so I encourage women to get involved and then practice your craft and build your knowledge to meet the needs of the game.
“It is awesome to show that it can be done, you just have to work really hard to get there.”
The A-League begins the weekend of October 7 and the Premiership draw is expected to be around the same time.


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