In the latest of our Referee Spotlight series, sponsored by REFSIX, we spoke with county referee, Kim Etherington
Thinking back to when she made the decision to take up refereeing, Kim is in no doubt as to where the blame lies.
“It’s all my partner Simon’s [Beckman] fault!” chuckles Kim, “he started refereeing back in around 2000, and I used to take him to his games.
“But I soon realised that, whilst Simon was refereeing one game, the game on the other pitch, wasn’t being properly officiated by anyone.
“So, Simon basically said, ‘well why don’t you just do it?’ and that’s how it all started."
Kim enrolled on a Referee Course in Brighton which was tutored by Paul Saunders and Dave Jackson.
“I understood football quite well, even before I took the course,” said Etherington, “because I’d been going to watch games with my dad since I was eight or nine. So, I had a decent knowledge of the game.
“Going into the course though was a relatively daunting experience, me being a relatively young woman in a room of men.
“But I remember it gave me a lot of confidence when we started talking about the foul throw law.
“I was the only one there who knew you could have your foot on the pitch without it being a foul, as long as you don’t lift them up, which certainly helped to settle the nerves!
“It also helped that Paul and Dave were really good and really approachable.”
Soon though it was time for Etherington’s first game in the middle of the park.
“It was an under-11s game but aside from that, I can’t really remember much about it, but I know it must have gone alright because I came back the next weekend and kept at it.
“When I qualified there were only two other female referees in the county, Angela Bennett and Lisa Benn.
“So, for a long time, the sight of a female referee in Sussex was a rare thing.”
Kim continued to grow and develop as a referee and found there was support available to her along the way.
“You do learn a lot from speaking to and watching a lot of other referees,” said Etherington, “It was great to go to all the RA meetings and chat with the other officials. I’d definitely encourage anyone to join and get involved with their local RA.