“Refereeing has now become a way of life” says Katie Allen as she’s nominated for National Grassroots Award

Katie Allen Photo: Andrew Batt
Katie Allen Photo: Andrew Batt

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At just seventeen years old Katie Allen is quite the formidable force in local football and beyond. Katie revealed in an article with the Youth Sport Trust, of which she is a member of the Youth Sport Board, that she spent much of her childhood struggling at school due to undiagnosed dyslexia and used sport, football specifically, to channel the frustrations she felt growing up into a positive. Her role involves “representing the views of all young people within sport, by attending monthly meetings.”

“The thing that I enjoy most about sitting on the Youth Board is how I can see what I am doing is making a difference to young peoples lives.”

I was playing football in a football team and wanted a way to earn some extra money (at the age of 14). But, I originally found it impossible to find and book onto a course so I nearly gave up on looking and with the whole idea on becoming a referee. Until I was at one of my teammates birthday party at her house, whose Dad was a referee. I was then very interested to learn more, so he then showed me all of his kit. After this I was determined to become a referee so my friend and I went on a referee course when we were 14, that my referee mentor (friend’s dad found).”

What inspired you to get involved in refereeing?
Katie Allen Photo: Andrew Batt
Katie Allen Photo: Andrew Batt

Katie found herself becoming increasingly frustrated with the provisions in schools and decided to take action by setting up a petition ‘The Government should require schools to offer all sports to all children so they get the opportunity to take a sport that they feel comfortable with, rather than being expected to take certain sports because of their gender. This should help tackle sexism and increase participation.’ She received the 10,000 signatures required for the petition to be addressed by the government.

The government responded with ‘The Government thinks it is right that schools should be free to decide on their own diverse & challenging PE curriculum to meet the needs of all their pupils.’ but Katie was left unsatisfied with their response, and decided to write an open letter to the Secretary of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Gavin Williamson at the time, in June of 2021.

“I feel incredibly honoured and humbled to have been nominated for the county awards, let alone to have won it. As the other nominees were exceptional and all had a lot of experience too. To be nomination for the national awards feels absolutely out of this world, as 3 years ago I began refereeing as a way to earn a bit of pocket money and learn some extra skills. Refereeing has now become a lot more than that for me, it has become a way of life.”

How does it feel to have won the County ‘Match Official of the Year’ Award?
A pitch invader is sent off by Katie Allen Photo: Andrew Batt
A pitch invader is ‘sent off’ by Katie Allen Photo: Andrew Batt

“To anyone my age thinking of getting involved in refereeing I would say go for it. As when you are young the world is truly your oyster. You have all the time in the world to learn, of course you will have your set backs. But, these will help you to get back on your feet and become a stronger, better person.”

What would you say to anyone your age, regardless of gender, thinking about getting involved in refereeing themselves?

“Post – Euro’s I think there might well be an increase in young girls and women taking up refereeing. This is because we have seen excellent display of refereeing from Match officials that have come from all over to compete. I think what makes the Euro’s even more significant is that it is on home soil and young girls and women will believe that they can do it.”

Do you think we might see more young girls and women take up refereeing post-Euros?

She took home the ‘Match Official of the Year’ at the Berks & Bucks Grassroots Awards at this year’s ceremony held at Adams Park, home of Wycombe Wanderers and it was revealed she has been shortlisted for the National equivalent. The ceremony is set to take place at the Community Shield fixture between Manchester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in Leicester.

Good luck, Katie!

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