15-year-old Leighton Buzzard referee Annie is hoping she can inspire other youngsters to follow her lead

The teenager took charge of her first game at the weekend

By Holly Patel
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 5:06 pm

A teenager from Leighton Buzzard who recently passed her referee course hopes she can inspire other young people to take up refereeing.

Annie Scott, 15, has always been involved in football and started playing when she was three.

She recently passed The FA Referee Course with Bedfordshire FA and officiated her first game at the weekend - Leighton United under 12 blues versus Leighton United under 12 reds.

Annie recently passed the referee course

Annie said: "Football has always been my passion, I have played since I was three.

"I was looking for a part-time job, and I have been running the line for my brother's team on a Sunday for a few years.

"I saw refereeing as a way of giving back to a sport I love.

"About six months ago I did an online course and then I did the Beds FA course about a month ago, and my first game is this Sunday. It is an under 11s game, and I'm looking forward to it.

Annie took charge of her first game - Leighton United under 12 blues versus Leighton United under 12 reds, on Sunday, November 21

"I found the course really fulfilling.

"For anyone who is considering doing the course I would definitely say go for it, it may be daunting but stick with it because it will be worth it. It will boost your confidence.

"As a player you know the rules so for me it was just a refresher for those and it did really boost my confidence - both in football and in general.

"It has been really positive for me, everyone has been really supportive, my coach, my family, and my brother's team mates. I couldn't be happier with how it's all going.

"I would encourage more young people to get into refereeing. There is always a need for referees in football, and other sports as well. It is fun and a great way to give back to the sport.

"I want to say thank you to my parents for always supporting me in football."

Before moving to Leighton Buzzard, Annie, who now plays for Leighton United FC under 17 Girls, and her family lived in Canada.

Annie's proud dad, Paul - who coaches two boys teams in Leighton Buzzard - praised his daughter's achievements.

He said: "She has always wanted to be involved in football and she has set out and achieved what she wanted, I'm very proud of her.

"This is good news for the town, for young people and for girls. When we arrived here, six years ago, there were just three girls teams and now there are about seven or eight and that is great.

"Annie has been running the line for her brother's team for about three years now. She told me recently that she wanted to become a referee.

"She knew that with me doing a lot of coaching there would always be opportunities locally for her to referee games.

"She has a lot of experience in football, she has taken a bit of stick over the years from players and parents, but she's quite thick skinned and she's clever, she just brushes it off.

"She has had lots of support since passing, a lot of people have been saying how it's great to see young people, and especially a local girl getting involved in refereeing.

"Leighton Town and the youth team have been really supportive. It is great to see and a lot of parents have been really supportive and asking how she got onto the course and how she got involved.

"Jill Upton, from Beds FA, is really supportive of girls getting involved in the game, and in particular officiating.

"Matt Collins, her coach, and Rob Collins, Matt's son have been really supportive as well, Matt has been really great and I think he got Leighton Buzzard on the map for girls football.

"His son is a referee and they have both been great mentors for Annie.

"With the young people starting to come into the game, the FA has introduced yellow armbands for those who are under 18, the idea of the yellow armband is to help identify those referees who are under the age of 18 and ensure that they are collectively supported

"The FA has been pushing the No Ref No Game slogan and is encouraging people to get involved in refereeing.

"It is good to see girls getting more and more into football, and not just playing. Not everyone likes to play, but that doesn't mean they don't enjoy the game.

"Annie is a great example for girls, and young people, there is more than one way to get involved with the game."

The Bedfordshire Football Association has launched a campaign to stop young referees from being subjected to verbal abuse.

All referees under the age of 18 will be provided with a yellow armband and will be asked to wear them whilst officiating on youth and adult football leagues within Bedfordshire.

On Sunday, November 21, Annie took charge of her first game - Leighton United under 12 blues versus Leighton United under 12 reds.

She said: "It was amazing, I was quite nervous in the morning because it was my first game but it went really well. It was an under 12's game at Leighton United.

"It went well, there was no complaints and everyone was really supportive. I'm looking forward to doing it again."

If you are interested in refereeing, you can find out more about courses by visiting: www.bedfordshirefa.com/referees.