Suffolk’s leading female referee Abi Marriott has ambitions to one day officiate in the Football League.
The Mildenhall-based official was one of five Suffolk referees to be promoted to Contributory League Referee status earlier this year.
It meant from the start of this season Marriott can referee up to Step Three (Ryman League Premier Division) and act as an assistant referee up to Step Two (Vanarama National League South).
Next month will see Marriott complete another milestone when she officiates in her first international tournament, the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship Qualifiers, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“It was quite a surprise to be honest,” said Marriott about the appointment.
“I’ll be running the line and going out there with Sarah Garratt, who refereed the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
“She is the best female referee at the moment so it will be a good experience.”
After being persuaded by her partner, George Byrne, also a Level 3 referee, to take up the whistle in 2011, Marriott has enjoyed a rapid climb up the ranks.
“I started just under five years ago,” she said.“I’m quite a progressive person and always want to do as well as I can.
“I would like to one day run the line in the Football League. I need one more promotion to run the line in the Conference and then one more after that to move up to the Football League.”
Marriott’s refereeing began in the Suffolk FA Youth Referees’ Academy, which involved officiating youth games at Ipswich Town from under-9s up to under-15s.
Trevor Pollard, head coach of the academy, assisted by his fellow coach Jim Hill, has coached Marriott from her first days in the Suffolk FA programme and has been a huge influence.
“Sian Massey used to be a lineswoman in the Premier League and is probably the most well known for being a quality lineswoman,” Marriott said. “But without Trevor I wouldn’t have carried on and got as far as I have now.
“He coached me from Level 7 all the way through. I always call Trevor before every game and after to let him know how I get on. And if I ever want him to come and watch me in a game he’s always more than happy to come and support me.”
Pollard added: “Abi is a great girl and without a doubt can be a Football League assistant one day. She’s got the fitness, the commitment and the right attitude to do it.”