'A super great honour'

Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing reflects on journey to Fifa Under-17 Women's World Cup final

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing always prides herself on having international success as a Fifa Assistant referee.

So strong is her passion to succeed that she uses it as her driving force to smile in the face of failures, setbacks, and barriers.

Yee Sing thrives on the fact that success is not final and failure is not fatal, but it is the courage to continue that counts. That has been her motivation since she started refereeing in 2013, and she has now been moulded into an assistant referee that embodies competitive spirit and skill.

The 29-year-old, who is now in her fourth year as a Fifa assistant referee, represents a certain level of quality and, along with fellow assistant referee Princess Brown, continues to fly Jamaica's flag high on the world stage.

The duo recently became the first Caribbean officials — male or female — to feature in a World Cup final. They were part of the officiating team that fulfilled duties in the showpiece event between Mexico and Spain at the Fifa Under-17 Women's World Cup in Uruguay last Saturday.

Canada's Marie-Soleil Beaudoin was the referee in the middle, while Chile's Maria Carvajal and New Zealand's Sarah Jones were the fourth official and reserve assistant referee, respectively.

“Oh, wow! the feeling is unexplainable really. It was truly unexpected, but a super great honour to be selected to carry out such a task. We came here knowing that this tournament was a test of our ability to progress to the next level and with each game it became more challenging mentally, and I am overwhelmed that our superiors had so much trust and confidence in us (our team) to do this,” Yee Sing told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

“I was nervous when the announcements were being read and when I heard our names I took a deep breath then exhaled. I then tried to be calm, but then Princess [Brown] started crying and my eyes just filled with tears because it was such a fantastic feeling to know we accomplished what was thought to be impossible.

“Even marching out onto the pitch; it was cold and I was so nervous, my legs were shaking and I was praying God don't let me fall or drop the flag,” she added before bursting into laughter.

Hard-working, dedicated and a referee of immense ability are some ways in which Yee Sing has been described, and her credentials label her as such.

Before last Saturday's final, she featured in three Concacaf finals — the Under-20 tournaments in 2015 and 2018, and the Under-17 tournament in 2016. She also figured at the Under-17 World Cup in Jordan in 2016.

“Short career but [it] seems like a long road because the journey has not been easy as no journey ever is. Refereeing on a whole is challenging in so many ways. I mean we aren't always the first to be thought of and as match officials, we are forced to be strong/firm mentally and emotionally and find the right balance as well as have the right support throughout our growth.

“Personally it is awesome, because when I reflect on my time growing as a player, not getting the chance to play for Jamaica or go overseas to play, I can say I have no regrets. God knew what He was doing even when I didn't and yet I still got to represent Jamaica years after, but in a different way as an official,” the soft-spoken Yee Sing reasoned.

Despite being disappointed with her performance at the Concacaf Women's Championships in Texas in October, Yee Sing was not about to give in as she is well aware that success comes by virtue of walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

“I pride myself on being the best me, though no one is perfect; I always aim high. Sometimes we face some situations where things just happen, so I stopped asking why me and just try to stay on the positive side, shake it off and move on.

“But I also have some really great people around me with God at the helm; my family, boyfriend, instructors; and friends that I share my experiences with and they don't allow me to sit and wallow in my mistakes. They always encourage me to get up and go again,” Yee Sing shared.

The St Jago alumna gave some insights on the process of being shortlisted for a World tournament which she revealed takes about two to three years of preparation.

“For us it began with the 2016 U-17 World Cup in Jordan, and from there we were selected to be a part of the 2019 Women's World Cup programme. We have training plans that we have to follow every month and daily programmes to submit every day and fitness coaches we report to who assist us quite well.

“We do video test, where we have to analyse and explain using the concepts. We must understand from our knowledge of the laws of the game and also seminars reinforcing this along with fitness checks with our very active and supportive instructors from Jamaica and also with our confederation, Concacaf. All of this really prepares us tremendously so when we get to the Fifa level we can perform at our optimum,” she explained.

“So I am extremely happy to be a part of history. And I work hard for my parents; they are my motivation. My mom is a tower of strength and my father was the most supportive man I ever knew. They are the reason I fell in love with football, so in all the excitement I had to pause and whisper to God thank you,” Yee Sing added.

With that said, Yee Sing pointed out that her journey and success have given her added confidence to encourage others to chase after their dreams.

“It has me pumped up like I'm ready to work again. The tournaments are always hard work, but when you love what you do, prepare very well and you're having fun, being tired is a state of mind. I only hope to continue growing, be consistent, get better and always do my best,” Yee Sing noted.

“Our job isn't easy. Many of us come up from little or nothing, and sometimes we don't see where the road is taking us but stay encouraged, know and believe in yourself and your abilities, and don't give up on your dreams no matter what obstacles you are faced with in any area of life,” she ended.

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