Rebecca Welch will become first female to referee in the EFL on Easter Monday

Tuesday 30 Mar 2021
Rebecca Welch has been a regular in the Barclays FA WSL and on the international scene

Rebecca Welch will become the first female referee to officiate in the EFL, when she takes charge of a League Two game on Easter Monday.

The Durham-based official has been appointed to referee the fixture between Harrogate and Port Vale, when she'll make history in the process.

And it's the latest chapter in a remarkable story for Welch, who only began her refereeing journey after taking on a challenge just over a decade ago from one of her friends.

"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," she revealed.

"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 here I am."

Welch has since gone on to take charge of games in the Barclays FA Women's Super League, the Vitality Women's FA Cup Final and Women's Community Shield as well as women's international games in recent seasons.

Rebecca Welch hails from the north-east, where she began her refereeing career in local leagues

And last December saw her promoted to UEFA's elite category of female officials, but she admits it hasn't all been plain-sailing along the way.

"Sometimes I used to go home and chuck my bag down and I’d tell myself I’m never doing it again," she said.

"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."

Speaking about Rebecca's appointment, our women's professional game refereeing manager Joanna Stimpson, added:  "Rebecca’s achievement is a true reflection of the hard work she puts in daily to her refereeing both on and off the pitch.

"She's a real inspiration to all women, men, girls and boys, but mostly to female referees who can see that by putting in the hard work you can achieve incredible things in both the men’s and women’s game."

Welch will referee the EFL League Two clash between Harrogate and Port Vale on Easter Monday, 5 April.

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By Nicholas Veevers