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PRO officials fly the flag at the U17 Women’s World Cup

While the domestic season heads to its climax in North America, three PRO representatives have been officiating on the international stage at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2016.

Hosted in Jordan, Katja Koroleva (referee), Kathryn Nesbitt (assistant referee) and Deleana Quan (assistant referee) officiated at the historic tournament, which saw the best young female soccer players from around the world go head-to-head.

The tournament

Jordan 2016 was the first major women’s football competition held in the Middle East and its staging possessed a particular significance beyond the on-field action.

Before a ball was kicked, the host country’s monarch, Her Majesty Queen Rania, stated her belief that soccer could help “change attitudes and perceptions as to how society perceives girls and young women”.

While numerous courses, seminars and other events were held to promote and encourage female soccer players, coaches and referees; on the field, Asia maintained its stronghold.

Korea DPR were crowned eventual champions as they saw off rivals Japan 5-4 on penalties in the final, following a goalless draw.

In the match for third place, Spain took on Venezuela and were comfortable victors, leaving Jordan on a positive note with a 4-0 victory.


Katja Koroleva:
Game 1 (group stage) – Oct 1, 2016: Nigeria v Brazil (fourth official)
Game 2 (group stage) – Oct 4, 2016: Nigeria v England (referee)
Game 3 (group stage) – Oct 7, 2016: New Zealand v Jordan (fourth official)
Game 4 (quarterfinal) – Oct 13, 2016: Japan v England (referee)
Game 5 (third place match): Oct 21, 2016: Venezuela v Spain (fourth official)

Kathryn Nesbitt:
Game 1 (group stage) – Oct 4, 2016: Nigeria v England (AR1)
Game 2 (quarterfinal) – Oct 13, 2016: Japan v England (AR1)

Deleana Quan:
Game 1 (group stage) – Oct 4, 2016: Nigeria v England (AR2)
Game 2 (quarterfinal) – Oct 13, 2016: Japan v England (AR2)

Image (L-R): Kathryn, Katja and Deleana after a FIFA fitness test

The view from the officials

Were you happy with how the tournament went, both on and off the field?

Katja Koroleva: “As a crew, this was our first FIFA tournament and we are very pleased with both the experience and our overall performance. During the four days we were lead in an intensive seminar by Kari Seitz, who is a Senior Manager for FIFA and was our lead instructor for this tournament. This classroom time followed by our fitness test, set the expectations for where we needed to be in order to be successful. Instructions focused on Penalty Area decisions, Tactical Fouls, Severity of foul discrimination, Handling, and Offside.”

Kathryn Nesbitt: “After our first match we were honored with a quarterfinal and were pleased with our performance on both. The tournament was a great experience with a high level of soccer, excellent instruction for the referees, and an all-round positive atmosphere to learn and improve as referees.

Deleana Quan: “The tournament was a very rewarding experience. Being able to immerse yourself in the game of soccer for over a month allows you to truly focus on what you’re learning and how you can implement it in your matches, and FIFA does a wonderful job supporting the tournament referees to create an optimal environment for learning.”

What does it mean to you to represent your nation on an international stage, and how does refereeing at tournaments help you develop as an official?

KN: “It was an incredible honor to represent the USA in Jordan at the U17 Women’s World Cup. Officiating internationally at the tournament gave us the opportunity to receive high-level instruction in the classroom and instant feedback during field training drills. We were able to practice, develop, and make improvements daily, while applying what we had learned in our matches. International exposure also helped us get more acclimated to different playing styles seen in other countries and gain experience refereeing these different tactics.”

DQ: “Officiating internationally adds another dimension to refereeing soccer, as you are surrounded by some of the top referees and instructors in the world, who all bring decades of experience. There was fitness and technical classroom training every day, and you are exposed to ways of thinking about officiating and interpreting actions in matches that you haven’t encountered previously. We were able to implement the concepts and instruction immediately in training, which then translated to our performance on the field. It was an extremely collaborative environment in which we all learned from each other, which improved our performance as a whole. It was an incredible learning experience.”

How does international officiating differ from domestic, and does the difference help in your development?

KK: “For me, the expectations and scrutiny that accompanies the highest level is the biggest difference. So much rests on each decision. Whether it’s an offside call or contact in the penalty area, the official’s decision means so much. The World Cup was a magnification of that. Along with the actual soccer side, the addition of different cultures, playing styles, and the passion of supporters do make it a different atmosphere. Even the most basic of things like language is a challenge. We all trained in using a variety of communication techniques, changing body language, verbal phrases, and whistle tone to help create an understanding on the field. “

Finally, how has 2016 been for each of you overall, and what’s next for you?

KN: “2016 has been a successful year for me, and for our Jordan crew. We worked hard individually and as a team to be prepared for this tournament and we were very happy with our performance. We are now focused on being physically and mentally prepared for the next assignment. We are continuing to train and expose ourselves to new and unique match situations to expand our knowledge and understanding of the game to be prepared for what comes next.”

KK: “The four weeks we spent in Jordan was actually the culmination of four months of preparation for this tournament. Fitness training, Laws refreshers, and studying game film became daily habits. We were greatly honored to have received this selection and are proud of our performance and appointment to a quarterfinal in our first FIFA event. I think that all three of us have enjoyed returning home and relaxing, but are anxious to see what the future holds at both international and domestic level.”

DQ: “This year was my first on the FIFA panel, and it’s been exhilarating. Officiating the CONCACAF U17 Championships in Grenada and the U17 WWC in Jordan were amazing experiences, as were the international friendlies to which I was assigned. I’ve learned a lot from the international community, as well as from my American colleagues on the FIFA panel, and am focusing on being prepared for future appointments. We’re all looking forward to what 2017 brings!”

Image (L-R): Kathryn, Katja and Deleana with their FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup medals

Praise from PRO

On the trio’s achievements, PRO’s Sandra Serafini said: “The Organization is extremely proud of how Katja, Kathryn, and Deleana represented the U.S. in their first FIFA tournament.

“Their success came from years of hard work, which we were able to fine-tune over the final few months by providing opportunities for them to work together in the NWSL and the USL, analyzing their matches with them, and providing guidance on what to expect.

“Regardless of how much you prepare, there’s nothing quite like experiencing a FIFA event first-hand, and PRO is confident they have come back stronger and even hungrier for the next level.

“Their experience will benefit all officials in PRO and it is a privilege to continue working with them to help them achieve continued success both at home and abroad.”

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