Ja's Samuels takes whistle in WC
JAMAICAN female FIFA referee Cardella Samuels is set to officiate in her first World Cup game when she takes the middle in today's Women's Under-17 match between New Zealand and Japan in Azerbaijan.
Samuels, 29, was the fourth official in the North Korea and Gambia and the France versus North Korea matches.
Samuels, who played netball while at Glenmuir High but never played football, started refereeing in 2004 before becoming a FIFA official in 2009.
The Clarendon native has officiated with distinction in many regional CONCACAF and Caribbean tournaments. She started a netball team in her community but the pressure of football refereeing put paid to her involvement in that sport.
Samuels' assistant referees today will be Nykasie Liverpool of Guyana and Elizabeth Aguilar of El Salvador. The fourth official is Claudia Umpierrez of Uruguay.
Jamaica had another female official at a World Cup in Paulette Riley who was an assistant referee and more recently, Stacey-Ann Greyson, who was on the lines at the 2010 London Olympics.
With this latest achievement, the local refereeing association is beaming, said fitness instructor Rohan Thobourne.
"It means that the work that we've been putting in is paying off and we hope that it will motivate others to come forward and work hard and... achieve," said Thobourne.
He said praises couldn't be too high for Samuels who did a fitness test a day after being notified of her appointment for the World Cup.
"We have to work hard because if Cardella wasn't prepared she would not be there right now. She went to Montego Bay all by herself and had the test done under the watchful eyes of the CONCACAF Referee Instructor Brian Hall," noted Thobourne.
"The door is open for a lot of young females to be referees. We want to get them in. The potential that our referees have is no less than what the Europeans and the South Americans have. It's just a case of commitment and putting what you're told in practice," he added.
Samuels becomes the second Jamaican to stand in the middle at a World Cup game — behind the retired Peter Prendergast, who did so at the 2002 Men's event in South Korea.
"That is what we want to see, one of our officials reach the highest level and we are really beaming now with pride," said Thobourne.