A FEW seasons ago I was appointed as assistant referee to the semi final of the Under 18 girls National County Championship game between Hampshire and Kent at Alton Town.

It was a cracking match with Hampshire coming out victors by the odd goal in three. After the game I said to the coach of the winning side, ‘anyone who thinks girls can’t play football should have been here’.

I’m sure viewers watching the UEFA women’s cup matches in the summer would have had similar comments.

The technical skills and tactical awareness of the players were very high. The referees, all female, were equally as good and the Swiss referee, Esther Staubli, handled the final excellently.

However, when I looked down the tournament’s list of referees and assistant referees, there was only one English name there, that of Sian Massey, well known as an assistant referee on the Premier League.

Most other European countries had complete teams of three.

Of course. the FA’s opposition to women’s football for many years and not allowing women to become referees hasn’t helped.

I remember some years ago, a woman teacher taking the course locally and although passing the exam, she had to be content with a certificate, unable to enrol as a referee.

But all that is behind us now – women’s and girls’ football in this country is growing.

So is the number of woman referees with more women and girls taking the referees course.

One course I worked on recently had several, some very impressive.

Here is something for them to think about.

In Germany, Bibiana Steinhaus, this season became the first woman to referee in the premier division of the Bundesliga and Lorraine Wilson has just become the first woman referee to take charge of a Scottish Premiership game.

Their achievements were dwarfed, however, by Silva Regina de Oliverira, who refereed in the Brazilian Premier Division 14 years ago.

So the challenge is there, ladies and girls. Just think, with hard work and commitment. you could be the first woman to referee in the Premier League.