New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley and Tongan assistant referee Lata Kaumatule are the region’s only representatives among the match officials at the prestigious event.
At her first FIFA tournament, Keighley’s opening appointment was as the fourth official in the Group D match between Mexico and Colombia.
Keighley is becoming more of a veteran as the event continues, taking charge as Mexico beat China PR 4-0 and again when Zambia downed host country Costa Rica 2-1 in Group A.
She was joined by Kaumatule as Assistant Referee 2 on both those matches.
An experienced referee locally Keighley is entering her eighth season with the whistle in a career that has seen her officiate during the New Zealand Knockout Cup and National Women’s League finals multiple times.
Internationally she has been building her resume with appointments at the South Pacific Games in New Caledonia in 2011, the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers in Tonga and international friendlies where New Zealand has taken on Australia and China.
To be making the step up to a FIFA World Cup event is a great privilege for the burgeoning young referee.
“It’s a great excitement and honour to be appointed,” Keighley said prior to departing for Costa Rica.
“It is another step toward the dream of making the World Cup, so I was absolutely delighted to be included.
“Being selected to be a part of the Women’s World Cup programme is the highlight of my career so far. It has meant a trip to Zurich for a seminar and this appointment to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.”
Keighley’s long-term goal is to referee at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and that means putting in long hours of preparation.
“I have dedicated many hours of training both physically and mentally to help develop my ability as a referee and aid my understanding of the game,” she said.
“The majority of my weekends in the winter are spent refereeing both men’s and women’s games to ensure I am building up my experiences and further developing the craft of refereeing.”
And that’s just her general training. In preparation for Costa Rica Keighley upped the ante knowing she’d be among the top match officials in the women’s game.
“My build-up includes a lot of physical fitness training sessions – including long and short distance running, speed and strength work. Mental preparation is also part of the build-up, with frequent revision of the Laws of the Game and analysis of match incidents,” she outlined.
With the quarter-finals due to get underway on 27 March, Keighley will be hoping she and Kaumatule have performed to a high enough level to earn further appointments in the second stage.