This summer we cheered as Nikita Parris, Sport Scholar and Sport Development student, made an outstanding contribution to the England women’s team at Euro 2017. Now two other LJMU students are making strides in the game. Meet Yasmin Saeed and Niamh Charles.
At 19 years of age, Yasmin Saeed is one to watch. A successful referee for the FA, she started refereeing at just 15 years old. Originally her career in football was all laid out for her to play for Everton Ladies, but Yasmin suffered an injury that prevented her becoming a player.
“I sustained a fractured pelvis whilst playing for Everton, which resulted in me having to learn how to walk again and come to the realisation that I could no longer play football. So, I decided to take up refereeing as I did not want to lose football in my life.”
Back on her feet and determined to realise her dreams, Yasmin is now studying on the Applied Sport Psychology course at LJMU and balances her studies with her career as a referee. She plans on becoming a sport psychologist specifically for match officials. How does her course help inform her role as a referee?
“My course helps me in a lot of different situations during a game that I am refereeing, for example, dealing with certain players in different ways by observing player reactions/behaviours.”
We asked Yasmin her views on why there is a low representation of women in roles such as refereeing and coaching in football?
“I guess there has not been many role models out there for people to aspire to. But now, there are quite a number of female role models which is helping to increase the number within refereeing and coaching.”
Does Yasmin see herself as a role model to girls who aspire to get into refereeing?
“I am currently a coach for a group of young female referees in Manchester. When I first started, I had no female role models to aspire to but, these girls hopefully see me as something to look up to and I’m very happy to help them.”
To this day there hasn’t been a female referee officiating a Premier League match. Having already reached incredible milestones for her age and gender, including refereeing for an international game at St. George’s Park – would refereeing a Premier League game be Yasmin’s ultimate goal?
“Yes. You can’t really put a time limit on when it may happen, but hopefully in the near future it will. It will take a lot of hard work, dedication, sacrifices and determination, and I’m ready for all that.”
Niamh Charles has just been recruited as a Sport Scholar at LJMU, she’ll be studying on the Sport and Exercise Science course. Currently playing for Liverpool Football Club, Niamh chose this course as it would feed directly into her football career:
“The content I would be learning would relate to what I do every day in my football career. I hoped I would be able to use some information I learned on the course to improve my own physical performance in football.”
She’ll also gain skills to use beyond her playing career:
“I would like to continue playing football professionally for as long as possible to the best of my ability. After this I hope to use my degree to continue working in sport, helping elite athletes perform to the highest standards.”
Since joining Liverpool Football Club at the age of 14, Niamh has had a number of successes in her career including being nominated for NWFA’s Women’s Rising Star award.
“I progressed through the age groups winning a league title and being the captain in my final year. I made my first team debut aged 16 and signed a professional contract with Liverpool in July of this year. I have also represented England at U17 and U19 level. At U17s we came third in the Euros and qualified for the U17 World Cup where we got to the quarter finals. Most recently, I went to the Euros with U19s and qualified for the U20 World Cup which is taking place in France this summer.”