Sunday 28th October was certainly a day that Holly Shepherd won’t forget in a hurry; Holly was Assistant Referee for an International Friendly, Nottingham Forest Ladies vs Jamaica at the City Ground in Nottingham. Having just qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Jamaica was strong opposition for FA Women’s National League side Nottingham Forest Ladies.
We caught up with Holly following the game, asking her to take us through the journey of her day “I couldn’t believe it when I got the call from The FA saying that I had been asked to be a part of such a great team. When I was appointed to the game I didn’t understand the reality of how big the game was, I was overwhelmed. Also I was filled with joy that I had been chosen, a young referee, to participate in an international game of football!”
Holly added “On game day, I woke up with a large bunch of emotions. I was excited but also I was scared. I didn’t know what it was going to feel like walking out in front of a large number of people, and having to stay calm and collective the whole time. The time in the morning before the game went slow. I think that was because I was excited. When the referee arrived to pick me up I knew it was becoming real.”
“We arrived at the ground and we were greeted by the Nottingham Forest Staff, when we got into the officials changing room it was lovely to meet the other girls I was going to be working with. We walked out onto the pitch and I was overwhelmed. I am unable to explain what it felt like to be on the pitch, it’s totally breath-taking. The build up to the match went so quickly and before we knew it we were singing the national anthem and doing the Respect handshake. Like any normal game it has ups and downs, but everything ran smoothly. After the game, the club looked after us all and it was time to go. I can’t stop smiling and looking at photos from the day.”
We asked Holly what the favourite part of her day was, “My favourite part of the day has to be when we sung the national anthem, and I have never had a feeling like it. As soon as you walk out onto the pitch the atmosphere is amazing, unexplainable. Another highlight of the day was meeting a great bunch of female referees, people that enjoyed the same things as me.”
We then ask Holly what she found was the most challenging part of her day. “The toughest part of the day was seeing a large crowd after never having refereed in front of that many people before. As soon as the crowd started singing when we walked out of the changing room, the fear suddenly went away.
“I learnt a few things from the game; Such as how to be calm and controlled in such an uncontrolled environment. I also learnt how to keep my nerves under control and focus on myself and my own decisions. I learnt how to believe in myself and believe that the decisions that I was making were correct.”
“It is great to see Holly take such a fantastic opportunity and do so well, her dedication and commitment that she has shown to refereeing in such a short space of time is what has earnt her the appointment to such a great fixture in the first place. She is a credit to Leicestershire and Rutland County FA in the way she conducted herself on the day and we are incredibly proud of Holly’s appointment to the game.” added Natasha Wilson Referee Development Officer.
If you would like to follow in Holly’s footsteps and become a referee we have a number of courses currently available.
If you have any questions please contact Natasha Wilson Referee Development Officer.
Holly Shepherd (Third from left), part of the Officiating team