We spoke to one of Mark’s young charges, Chloe the goalkeeper. She tells us that her dad, a Wednesday fan, can’t bring himself to say the team’s name when he cheers her on, so opts for the neutral: “come on, Sheffield!” Chloe comes from a passionate football family, and they encouraged her to get involved with the game, even though her friends at school didn’t play.
Chloe talks to us about her experiences of refereeing junior football, and reflects on its challenges: the many rule changes and the “grief from parents”. She does, however, speak fondly about working with the younger kids; talking them through the match and helping them to learn the game: “if a kid did a foul-throw I would say ‘no, that’s wrong – here’s what you need to do’”.
Recently Chloe visited Zanzibar with school, and learnt that the ladies game is still not as global as it might be. “The people there were amazed that girls play football in England.” She was promptly given the nickname ‘Steven Gerrard’ despite her position.