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History to be made at Harrogate Town with first ever female referee at EFL game

Harrogate Town's match on Easter Monday will go down in history as the first ever game in the English Football League to be overseen by a female referee.

Harrogate Town's match on Easter Monday will go down in history as the first ever game in the English Football League to be overseen by a female referee. 37 year old Rebecca Welch from County Durham will be the 'woman in the middle' at The EnviroVent Stadium, when Town take on Port Vale. Rebecca has described her appointment as the 'biggest achievement of her career'. She's already overseen some big games, including the Women's FA Cup Final. Rebecca Welch said being asked to take charge of the League Two match was a surprise...

"It was a shock. "I was on my way back from a game and I got a phone call from Mike Jones (PGMOL National Group Director) and my initial response was 'oh, what’ve I done!' "But I’m really excited and this what I’ve been working towards and to be given this opportunity to work in the EFL is amazing for me. "This is the biggest achievement of my career. I’ve refereed at Wembley in the 2017 women’s FA Cup Final, which will always be a top highlight. But it’s good to achieve things and refereeing in the EFL on Monday will be the greatest so far.”
[embed]https://twitter.com/EFL/status/1376864417795674113[/embed] Rebecca is keen to set an example to other women who are thinking about taking up the whistle...
"Initially I wasn’t really aware of being appointed as the first female referee. I was just given the appointment and I was over the moon but when you kind of reflect on it you think 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 1% of their category can proceed to the next level so it definitely makes others down the period 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"
Rebecca initially got into refereeing part-time while working for the NHS, but she's now gone into football full-time...
"My journey through promotion has been a whirlwind over the past 10 years. I feel like it has gone quick and I was working for the NHS until a couple of years ago before I decided to take a career break so I could focus on football and put that full commitment in to it. "I didn’t want to be sat there 10 years after retiring not putting the full commitment in to it. Hopefully when I do retire I will return back to my job with the NHS as I loved it."
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