Sport is my family business. My dad ran football clubs, my brother is a referee and as soon as I was old enough to lace up boots, I was on the field too. That was until injury struck.
I still wanted to be on the pitch, but playing was no longer a reality for me. The next best thing was refereeing teams in the league that my dad and brother were a part of. At first, it was just a chance to keep fit and spend a nice afternoon with my family, but soon I got the bug.
"what really attracted me to Portsmouth was how flexible it was"
When teams first turned up they were a little surprised to see a woman refereeing, but after giving a penalty against my dad’s team and sending off my brother in the same game, people soon realised I meant business.
Eventually, I was spotted by a local sports tutor who put me through a training course and then it was off to university.
My plan was to study law and then convert to sports law, so that I had a career ready for me once I could no longer referee, and what really attracted me to Portsmouth was how flexible it was. I was already refereeing midweeks and on Saturdays, and at no point were my divided loyalties a problem for lecturers.
The course itself was great too. There was loads of one-on-one contact time with lecturers and you could see how the different law modules would come in handy later on when I’d want to specialise in sport. Altogether the undergrad experience was so positive that I signed up to continue for my Master's at Portsmouth as soon as I could, rather than transfer to another university.
However, opportunity always knocks at inconvenient times, and six months into my year-long Master's, the Football Association (FA) offered me a job as a development officer. Even though the job would mean relocating to Newcastle, it wasn’t the kind of chance you can turn down.
I thought I’d have to quit or postpone my studies, but Portsmouth were so supportive. They helped bite-size what I needed to learn so that I could still fly down to lectures once a week and essentially tailored the course to my needs. My lecturer had a real ‘no-problem’ attitude and if it wasn’t for them, there’s no way I’d have passed my Master's. It made everything possible for me.
"I thought I’d have to quit or postpone my studies, but Portsmouth were so supportive"
Now, I’m lucky to be part of a movement within women’s football that’s seeing the sport grow rapidly.
Just the other week, over two million people watched Scotland Ladies play and next season the Women’s Super League begins. The German Bundesliga just appointed its first female ref and new FA initiatives are putting women’s football in the spotlight here at home too.
Between the rise of my sport and the academic underpinning that Portsmouth has given me, there’s no ceiling to what I can now achieve – and I want to be a part of it all.