Highly pressurised and closely scrutinised, English referee Amy Fearn has thrived under the spotlight at the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final tournament in Nyon.
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Amy Fearn will realise a dream when she takes charge of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final between France and Germany on Friday. Two years ago Fearn became the first woman to referee in the English Football League and, in an interview with UEFA.com, the 34-year-old offered insight and an affirmed passion for a role that offered her a gateway into a game she evidently loves.
UEFA.com: How did you first get into refereeing?
Amy Fearn: When I was 12 years old. I wanted to be like my brother and play football but there was not really any opportunity for girls to play like there is now. My dad helped run my brother's team, and he helped me get involved with refereeing. I took the course when I was 13 years old and did my first game a week after my 14th birthday.
UEFA.com: How has the game changed since then?
Fearn: Now girls' football is a different game – you have women's and girls' teams in every town; 21 years ago I lived in a village and there just wasn't the opportunity to get into a team. Refereeing was an opportunity to get involved in the game.
UEFA.com: How has your career progressed?
Fearn: It has been a gradual increase. I was promoted onto the Midland Football Alliance. I now referee purely in the men's non-league, the Women's Super League and the Women's Premier League. Internationally, I was an assistant to Wendy Toms, who was our FIFA referee, and having that experience without being the actual leader of the team and to learn and know what to say in a meeting was a great experience.
UEFA.com: What have you learnt from your time in Nyon this week?
Fearn: We have had practical sessions on the pitch and also technical training sessions, going through DVDs and trying to work through our thought process. What should we be considering when tackles are going in, or before the tackles go in, so you are aware when key decisions need to be made. We have also done fitness sessions as a refereeing team.
UEFA.com: How much did you enjoy refereeing the semi-final between Germany and Denmark?
Fearn: You have got to enjoy every game; that's the key. To be successful as a referee, you have to enjoy it. Both teams played well and wanted to play football so it was an enjoyable atmosphere. They respected each other and respected the referees, and I found it a good standard. I think you've got to be aware that it is under-17s so you adjust your positioning as the players are still developing and not able to kick the ball as far as in an open-age game, but the laws are the same and both teams want to win.