The A-League’s newest central referee is hoping women officiating the men’s competition is something we see “week in, week out”, ahead of her debut game tonight in Perth.
Casey Reibelt will become just second woman to oversee a men’s A-League match and the first this season, after Kate Jacewicz created history in January 2020 as the first woman to referee the competition — 15 years after it was established.
But Queenslander Reibelt is hoping she won’t be the last when she takes to the pitch for the Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers clash.
“I think I’d like that, in future, that this is just the norm, that having female officials in the A-League men’s is not a special occasion,” the 34-year-old told ABC Sport.
“The men’s game brings about new challenges and I think that it’s something that should be available for any match official, it doesn’t matter what your gender is.”
Reibelt added that her greatest challenge would probably be the game’s “change in speed”.
“So I’m going to have to be really ready and reading and anticipating the play really well, so that I’m in the right positions.”
Rebeilt’s got an extensive refereeing resume, which includes officiating at February’s Women’s Asian Cup final in India.
“I’ve gotten some really awesome opportunities to travel the world and to work with so many different people from different countries,” she said.
“I know that there isn’t always the most opportunities as a player so being a referee is also a really great way to be involved in the game.
“I’ve been preparing physically and preparing with our local men’s National Premier League competition as well as refereeing in our A-League women’s competition.
“I’m really, really excited to get the opportunity… I was added to the men’s panel at the end of last year.”
By day, Reibelt crunches numbers as a maths teacher at Morayfield State High School.
“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into [refereeing],” she said.
“And yeah, trying to balance that with everything can be quite challenging, but it’s really, really rewarding and I love it, so it’s worth it.”
While officiating in her first A-League men’s match tonight is a tick in the box of one of her refereeing goals, her ultimate dream would to be involved in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s a special, special thing, because it’s here, we’re hosting and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Reibelt said.
“So I’m going to give myself every chance to be able to officiate in it.
“So just putting in good performances, working hard, just doing what I have been doing. And then yeah, hopefully it all falls into place for next year.”
Reibelt isn’t the only female official who got a call-up this round.
Queensland-based South Korean assistant referee Mi Suk Park will also make her A-League men’s debut when she runs the line at Redcliffe on Tuesday night, for the Brisbane Roar’s match against the Central Coast Mariners.
“To be honest, I’m a little bit nervous but I think I can do it because the match is the same, I try to think about it like it’s another other match,” Park told ABC Sport.
“I’m from South Korea and most of my career has been in South Korea, then I moved to Australia in 2018 and I’ve been an W-League match official, until now.
“Every referee’s goal is to do the World Cup, so I share the same dream.
“I now call Australia my second home, so I want to be the best referee I can be and I want to get my opportunity [at next year’s World Cup].”