Far from feeling the heat in southern Turkey, German referee Riem Hussein is thriving under the spotlight at the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship finals. The 31-year-old pharmacist possesses an impressive CV, but, as she explained to UEFA.com with palpable charisma, she is thrilled to be broadening her experience.
"I have enjoyed the tournament very much," she said, as she prepares to officiate this evening's Group A meeting between the hosts and Romania. "Until now, I've had the chance to learn a lot from very experienced observers, and the work the referees and assistants do is great. We have also had a very good time with great weather here in Turkey."
The ex-MTV Wolfenbüttel forward retired in 2005 and she found the transition from playing to refereeing to be effortlessly smooth. "At the beginning, inside your mind you are still a player to some extent," she explained. "But the longer you referee, the easier it becomes. It took time but it was easy because you have to focus on your work and your duties. I'm always saying that having played the game is a very big advantage. You immediately recognise a foul, and you understand the reaction of the players. It helps a lot."
Hussein is no stranger to the big occasion after taking charge of the women's German Cup final in 2010, an honour she rates as one of her proudest accomplishments. "We had more than 26,000 people in the stadium," she said. "That's not very usual – not even in Germany, and it was shown live on TV. The game went really well and it is a moment I shall never forget."
With intense scrutiny and analysis always inevitable, officiating is a grave test of anyone's character, but Hussein is confident she has developed the necessary coping methods. "I think it's a matter of mental preparation. Awarding a corner, forming a wall – these things have to be automatic. Things have to run without you thinking about them. In women's football, we don't have many matches with a lot of public interest, but concentrating and believing in yourself and your skills helps you deal with the pressure."
Diversely talented, Hussein juggles her refereeing duties with a job as a pharmacist outside the game, having studied at the prestigious Braunschweig University of Technology. "I act as a consultant for customers and at home my father is the owner in a family business," she said. "My brother and my sister work there too and we have a lot of contact with people. We face them every day. You need to have a lot of scientific knowledge about what's going on in your body. It helps me to be fit and healthy because I try to look after myself."
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