Rebecca Welch makes history as first female referee appointed to EFL match

Rebecca Welch has become the first female referee to be appointed to take charge of an English Football League game and is set to officiate the League Two game between Harrogate and Port Vale on Easter Monday.

Welch has officiated seven National League games this season, but will create history by refereeing the match at the The EnviroVent Stadium next week.

The 37-year-old, from Washington, Durham, refereed the 2017 Women’s FA Cup final.

Welch told Sky Sports News: “I am still kind of trying to let it sink in at the minute. I got the news on Saturday and still haven’t come back down to earth.

“It’s very exciting, it is really good for me and the next steps of my career. I am very fortunate to be given this opportunity and really excited.”

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Amy Fearn was the first woman to referee an EFL game as she came on as an injury replacement in the 2010 Championship game between Coventry and Nottingham Forest.

But Welch is the first to be given a game from the off.

“Initially I wasn’t really aware of being appointed as the first female referee,” she added. “I was just given the appointment and I was over the moon. but when you kind of reflect on it you [realise] you’re the first woman ever to do this, so I’m extremely proud and my family’s extremely proud as well.

“I do think it’s important to show that women who are in the top one per cent of their category can proceed to the next level so it definitely makes others down the pyramid look up and know that they can achieve the same.

“It shows that there is a real opportunity to young girls who are wondering if they are able take the whistle, or are if they are already a referee they can aspire to be an EFL referee, or like Sian Massey-Ellis who is currently operating in the Premier League.

PA

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