This week, Football Australia's Elite Refereeing Coach, Renae Coghill, attended the FIFA VAR Instructors course in Dubai. The only woman in the room, Coghill is another trailblazer we are proud to celebrate during Female Football Week.
Coghill, who served as a FIFA recognised match official between 2015-2021 began her refereeing career in 2005, before transitioning into the development space.
"My new role with Football Australia has allowed me the opportunity to coach the current A- Leagues' panel for both women and men.
"I love the chance to still be a part of the refereeing space and it's an honour to have the opportunity to help current referees reflect and improve their skills," she explained.
"I was extremely fortunate to have received a lot of help, coaching and support during my refereeing career and if I can give back by sharing my knowledge and experiences, and that makes someone else a little better, that's always a win."
When the opportunity presented itself to travel to Dubai for the FIFA VAR Instructors Course, Coghill jumped at the opportunity to not only learn for herself but to share these learnings with others.
"Attending the course was an opportunity to grow my knowledge in the space of VAR and to experience what it's like to sit in the seat of the VAR," Coghill said.
"The theme of the two-day course was around how to instruct and coach VAR officials and referees on and off the field, to deliver a consistent approach.
"We also learnt how important it is for us, as coaches, to collaborate and work with referees to help them become the best they can be, both on-field and in the VAR centre."
Coghill says that with VAR becoming a large part of the game, it was important to get an insight into the FIFA approach, and concepts and to learn from other countries experiences with VAR.
"We need to use teamwork, knowledge and the evidence provided by technology to help get the big, game-changing decisions correct," she said.
One of approximately 25 participants in the room, Coghill was the only woman attending the course, with referees from the AFC, OFC and CAF.
She explained that despite being the only woman, she found the experience extremely positive, but still wants to see more women and girls involved in the refereeing space.
"The experience was fantastic, I never felt out of place and was very much part of the team. It was set up to be a very open and safe place to learn without fear or judgment," she shared.
"It's important to keep encouraging and allowing the door to stay open for more girls and women to take up opportunities in all spaces of football. The more women are seen in these spaces, the more normal it will become. As they say, you can't be, what you can’t see."