Sport

Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing reaches for the stars with her love of football

Belles who ball

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 22, 2018

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During her years at the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica, Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing harboured no thoughts of pursuing a career as a football referee. She had her mind firmly set on breaking into the tourism and hospitality field.

At that time the St Jago alumna was making the rounds as a player, representing several teams, two of which she sported the captain's armband. She wore the colours of UTech, Rivoli United, Reno FC, Los Perfectos FC, and Barbican.

Little did she know that fate had ordained for her to explore the refereeing profession in 2013, which resulted in her transitioning to an assistant referee that embodies competitive spirit and skill.

Yee Sing represents a certain level of quality as one of Jamaica's young professional officials, as she is one of a few who have been flying the flag high among CONCACAF's best.

Hard-working, dedicated and a referee of immense ability are some descriptives used to refer to Yee Sing — now in her fourth year as a FIFA assistant referee.

The 29-year-old has so far featured in three CONCACAF finals — the Under-20 tournaments in 2015 and 2018, and the Under-17 tournament in 2016. She also featured at the Under-17 World Cup in Jordan in 2016.

“I was hesitant at first when my cousin [Jermaine Yee Sing], who is also now a FIFA referee, invited me to training — because of the stigma behind it with the spectators being boisterous, especially towards the females.

“But while finishing up university I realised that I was on the verge of giving up my football career and decided to give refereeing a try just to stay involved in the sport,” she told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

“But I didn't expect to be where I am in refereeing right now. I never thought any of this would happen or that my life would change completely since I started refereeing. So it is going good so far, I have grown over the years and I have achieved my goal, which is to basically travel, and refereeing has allowed me to do [so]',” Yee Sing added.

Having been through the same procedure as the men in proving herself as a top-class assistant referee, Yee Sing revealed that she has never been daunted by her male counterparts.

“Before I even began refereeing I competed against the males while they were on the field, so I enjoy competing against them and some males look up to us (females) and find us challenging because we keep them on their toes. But in refereeing we don't view it as men versus women, we are just one group and a team of referees,” she noted.

So passionate is she about the sport, which she admits is a driving force, that the attention or lack thereof is of very little concern to her now.

However, there were times earlier in her career when what she considers unfair criticisms by fans or club members forced her to question her future in the sport.

“Honestly, I have thought about quitting a few times, because it can get hard and frustrating at times when you probably had a bad game or get insulted by spectators or teams and don't know how to recover from it. But once you have a good support system, a team that believes in you and wants to see you excel, then you will eventually overcome,” Yee Sing shared.

Reflecting on her performance last year when she was voted assistant referee of the year, Yee Sing said the aim was to maintain her high standards, especially after participating in the Under-17 World Cup.

“It was a bit of a bittersweet year because I lost my father, who was a big part of my development in football and a huge motivator for me, but I managed to stay positive and continued to work hard and it brought me to the CONCACAF Elite Group.

“The Under-20 Championships in Trinidad and Tobago was a stepping stone for us Elite's to see where we were in terms of our programme and our performance moving forward.

“So being with the big guns of CONCACAF, because those girls have been to many World Cups before, is always a privilege for me,” she stated.

But that does not mean she is going to stop working hard for the remainder of this year because there are new goals.

She has already been shortlisted for the Senior Women's World Cup next year and could possibly take part in the Under-17 and/or Under-20 World Cup later this year.

If Yee Sing does break into the Senior Women's World Cup next year, she will be the second Jamaican female referee to achieve the feat behind fellow assistant referee Princess Brown, who featured in the 2015 showpiece.

“The goal for this year is to be consistent and do my best to minimise mistakes leading up to 2019 because the aim is to be a part of the trio that gets to represent CONCACAF at the Senior Women's World Cup. And leading up to that, it would be great to attend one of the youth World Cup tournaments, so I am working towards those currently,” noted Yee Sing.

Finally, she had some encouraging tips for those upcoming referees who aspire to be as good and successful in their career.

“Despite limited resources and support, always remain relentless in your pursuit for a big break, so invest in yourself and continue working hard because you have to push yourself in order to arrive at the place in your career.

“In refereeing they say fitness is your passport. If you cannot pass the fitness test, then you can't progress regardless of how good you are technically. And you also have to be dedicated, otherwise, if you mess up you will give up easily,” Yee Sing ended.

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