Czech referee Jana Adámková's appointment to take charge of the UEFA Women's Champions League final is "something that all referees work hard to achieve".
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"A dream come true" – Jana Adámková's reaction to her appointment as referee of Thursday's UEFA Women's Champions League final.
The 40-year-old from Olomouc in the Czech Republic is relishing her assignment for the big occasion when VfL Wolfsburg take on Olympique Lyonnais at the Valeriy Lobanovskyi Stadium in Kyiv.
"It's fantastic – it's the biggest match that I have refereed, and it's something that all referees work hard to achieve," says Adámková, on the international list since 2007 and a member of the referees' team at last summer's UEFA Women's EURO in the Netherlands.
Adámková will be joined at the final by assistant referees Sian Massey (England) and Sanja Rođak-Karšić (Croatia). Kateryna Monzul (Ukraine) is fourth official, and another Ukrainian, Maryna Striletska, is the reserve official.
She is ideally placed to know what the players will be feeling on Thursday, having played in midfield for the Czech national team before becoming a referee in 2002. "It really does help if you have played, because you also understand the game from a player's point of view,” she stresses.
"I became a referee after hearing that they were looking for more female referees in the Czech Republic, and were looking at the possibility of players becoming referees. I gave it a try and found that I liked it."
Adámková, whose free time is taken up by sporting activities such as mountain biking, tennis and badminton – "my life is all about sport" – follows in the footsteps of another Czech female referee who enjoyed an outstanding career. Dagmar Damková, now a UEFA refereeing officer and UEFA Referees Committee member, took charge of the UEFA Women's EURO 2009 final, the 2011 UEFA Women's Champions League final and the 2008 Olympic Games final.
"Dagmar has been a great influence and model," she says. "It's fantastic to have been working closely with someone who was one of the best female referees in the world, and she gave me great advice along the way."
The huge progress of women's football at the highest levels has also had an important impact on the match officials. "The game is quicker, and the players have developed tactically, mentally and physically," Adámková reflects.
"This obviously means that the referees have had to adapt as well. We are fitter, and preparations have also developed, because we now have the opportunity to study teams and players and their tactics before a match."
Adámková rates people management as one of the key roles of a referee. "You have to have the personality to handle players," she emphasises. "The players have to be able to accept you, and when they do, it makes the ‘partnership’ on the field much easier."
Following Thursday's final, Adámková will be looking forward to duty at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in France in August.
Before then, her total focus is on Thursday's big night in Kyiv – and she is determined to savour the experience.
"As well as being fully concentrated, I will probably also feel a little emotional when we're all lining up with the teams before the match," she admits.
"It will be a 'once in a lifetime' moment that I want to enjoy."