A 14 year old girl from North Walsham is set to take charge of both boys and girls football matches in the county after she passed her level 8 youth football referee exams with the highest score of any candidate in Norfolk.
Gracie East, a student at North Walsham High School, was the youngest candidate taking the exams, and achieved a score of 38 out of 42.
She is already booked up to referee youth games on both Saturdays and Sundays for the next few weeks, with her first game in charge an Under 10s Boys match. When she is 16, she will be able to take charge of any age-group game, but until then she is restricted to refereeing teams younger than herself.
Gracie is a member of the Norfolk FA Youth Council and is the Female Participation Support lead. A keen footballer herself, she became interested in refereeing around a year ago.
“I love football, but girls football is not yet that big in the county,” said Gracie. “Refereeing gives me the chance to be involved in both the boys and girls games.”
Gracie is not afraid of taking charge of boys games, saying, “As soon as you blow the whistle, you show them who is in charge of the game. I know what I’m there to do, and I know the rules. You do have to be quite strong, and not take any nonsense.
“I like the pressure you get as a referee. You know it’s your game – I like being in charge.”
Gracie hopes to follow a career in football.