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Washington-based ref Rebecca Welch chats about her career ahead of Community Shield

As she prepares to referee the Women's FA Community Shield at Wembley, north-east official Rebecca Welch is the latest to face our 'On the Spot' questions...

Friday 28 Aug 2020
Rebecca Welch will take charge of the 2020 Women's FA Community Shield at Wembley

How much are you looking forward to refereeing this year’s Community Shield?

Any final that you are involved in is always exciting but especially if it is taking place at the national stadium, and so it should be. We're obviously living in a different world at the moment but I was absolutely made up when I got the phone call. I think to bring the Women's Community Shield back and then showcase it alongside the men is a fantastic idea and the professionalism in the women’s game just keeps going from strength to strength. Any game I go into, I prepare the same for it and as well as I can regardless of whether there is a trophy on the line or not.

Rebecca Welch
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Washington, Sunderland
  • Level of refereeing: Step 1
  • Years refereeing: 10

How did you first get into refereeing?

It was actually through a good friend of mine who used to come along and ref the games that I played in - and I used to have a go at her every week. And then one day she just turned around and said: “If you think you can do any better, why don’t you have a go?” It was probably a bit of arrogance from me thinking I could do better, and I didn’t realise how hard it was, but I really enjoyed it and now ten years later I’m reffing at Wembley.

Where did you take your first course and then where did you officiate your first game?

I took my course at Durham County FA then the first couple I did was women’s university games and the players weren’t really that bothered about the game so it was a doddle. Then the third game I did was Sunderland Sunday league football and it was a completely different kettle of fish. That took some getting used to but I am so grateful for the grassroots football experience because I never would have got to where I am now without it.

Is there one moment, good or bad, from your early experiences of officiating that springs to mind and has stayed with you ever since?

Sometimes I used to go home and chuck my bag down and I’d tell myself I’m never doing it again but you soon realise that not every day is going to be a good day in the office - it’s just like anything else. I had to analyse my performances and work out what I could do to improve and that’s something I really enjoy. I’ve been doing this ten years now and I guarantee that the good days will far outweigh the bad ones in the long run.

Welch has been refereeing for ten years and is a regular in the Barclays FA WSL too

What are the main benefits or enjoyments that you take from officiating?

As a young girl growing up playing football, I didn’t have the same opportunities that the girls have now. That’s not me saying I’d be in the England squad if I did but I think just being involved in the game is the main thing for me. The friends I have made have been amazing too and I’m so grateful for those too.

Have you ever had a role model who you looked up to, or someone who has played a part in your success as an official?

Not really. But if I look at Sian Massey now and what she's been able to achieve it is amazing and I want to do the same. She’s part of the furniture now and that is really nice to see and really encouraging. I think I’ve picked up a lot from everyone that I’ve met along the way though.

Manchester City and Chelsea are in opposition at Wembley

What would be your advice to anyone who is thinking of starting out?

Anything you do in life, it should be done with 100 per cent effort of course, but also it should be done with the aim of enjoying it. That should be the main thing, that and always learn from your mistakes, but you’ve got to enjoy it otherwise there's no point in doing it.

Talk us through your last game…What happened? What was the score?

I did a pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Glasgow City a few weeks back but that was pretty straightforward and the girls weren’t at their absolute fittest - it was too hot for football too. The last competitive one I did was actually Chelsea v Manchester City too so the teams are very familiar. The league was undecided at that point and obviously the teams are both very good so that was a good one to be involved in and I’m sure it will be again on Saturday.

By Tom Dean