Premier goal as Mary flies flag for the ladies

One of the most active members of the small band of Norfolk female referees has revealed her ambitious goal.

'I hope to progress to the top and referee in the Premier League,' said North Walsham-based teenager Mary Harmer.

Mary, 16, who used to play at Aylsham when she was younger, started refereeing at 15 and now has around 50 games under her belt.

'I really enjoy it. It's something I love doing. I referee every weekend when I have time,' she said.

'I do get a few cheeky remarks but the boys do respect me. I think at first they're a bit shocked when a girl goes in the middle but I'm just as capable as the boys!,' she said.

Mary has officiated mainly in North East Norfolk Youth League games and has also taken the odd ladies match.

Currently a Level Seven official, she is determined to keep on learning and climbing the ladder all the way to the top.

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She supports the idea of Norfolk FA's new female only course, being held on January 29 and February 5, urging anyone deliberating to 'go for it.'

'I was the only girl on the course when I trained but I managed to get on with the boys.

'Hopefully the female only course will increase the number of girls and women getting involved.

She added: 'I would say go for it. There are not many lady referees about and it would be nice to see some officiating in the Premier League.'

The Notre Dame, Norwich, A-level student said: 'I want to be a PE teacher by day and a female professional referee at the weekends. Hopefully that will happen. I would love to be a FIFA referee.'

Mary said one of her biggest buzzes so far came last season when she had a taste of a professional arena when she ran the line at Carrow Road for a college match. She is one of 11 female referees on Norfolk FA books. The most experienced is Cindy Dennis, from Lower Gresham, who is in her 12th season, and operates mainly in the North East Norfolk Saturday men's league but has also tasted Anglian Combination action.