Top women’s football referee joins Sunderland College

Lucy Oliver

Lucy Oliver

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AN international football referee plans to encourage more Wearside girls to take up the whistle.

Lucy Oliver, a footballing official is thrilled to take up her new role at Sunderland College’s Sports Academy.

Lucy officiates in the FA WSL – the equivalent of the men’s Premier League – and has travelled the globe as a women’s international match official.

The 26-year-old’s career highlights include the 2011 women’s FA Cup final and the under 17 Euro qualifiers, which were played in Austria last autumn.

Now, Lucy is bringing her expertise to Sunderland College as its new sports development officer, a position funded by Sport England to help 16 to 25-year-olds become more active.

Based in the state-of-the-art Sports Academy, Lucy is working with the teaching staff to launch a range of physical activity programmes across the college’s four campuses.

A former sports lecturer, Lucy said: “This is a different role and a new challenge for me. I really enjoy the development aspect of my refereeing and getting people of all ages active, so I’m really looking forward to sharing my passion for sports with staff and students at the college.”

Lucy, who is married to former Sunderland College student and premier league referee Michael Oliver, is also planning to work with the Sports Academy’s Football Development Centre, encouraging both boys and girls to get involved in the game, through playing, coaching and refereeing.

She added: “I started playing when I was about seven, but there were no real opportunities for me and no girls’ teams around so I gave it up. I wanted to stay involved in football in some way and that’s how I ended up refereeing.

“It’s important that people know there are other options available in football besides playing and coaching, and there are lots more opportunities in the sport for girls now.”

Lucy has travelled to South Africa, Botswana, America and Japan through her match appointments.

She said: “I have picked up some prestigious international appointments, and have been lucky to travel to some amazing places – hopefully there will be many more to come. My dream is to referee at a major tournament such as the World Cup, Olympics or Euro finals.”

For more information about the community sporting activities on offer at the college, call Lucy on 0191 511 6000 or email lucy.oliver@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk.