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A closer look at new EFL referee Rebecca Welch

A closer look at new EFL referee Rebecca Welch
© Reuters
Rebecca Welch became the league's first female referee in last season's game between Harrogate and Port Vale and has now made the National Group list.

Rebecca Welch made history earlier this year when she became the first woman to be appointed to referee a game in the English Football League.

The 37-year-old from Washington in the north east took charge of the League Two clash between Harrogate and Port Vale on Easter Monday.

Now she is set to become a familiar face in League One and Two after being promoted to the EFL's National Group list for the 2021-22 season.

Her appointment continues a rise through the officiating ranks that began just over 10 years ago.

Welch, who was born on December 1, 1983, played football from childhood but only took up the whistle at the age of 27 having been challenged to do so by a friend.

"I played football and didn't even think about refereeing until one of my really good friends, who is a referee, refereed us," she said in an interview. "I spent the whole game telling her how to do her job!

"Her response was, 'If you think it's that easy, give it a go'. That's how it happened and 10 years later here I am."

Welch took charge of clash between Harrogate and Port Vale in March
Welch took charge of clash between Harrogate and Port Vale in March (Nigel French/PA)

She qualified as an official through the Durham County FA and began refereeing in university football and in Sunday leagues in Sunderland.

She is now in the elite category of referees and is on FIFA's international list. In the women's game she has been involved in internationals, Champions League fixtures and Women's Super League matches. She hopes to earn selection for the panels at Euro 2022 and the 2023 World Cup.

She holds the rare honour of having refereed the Women's FA Cup final twice, first doing so in 2017 and then again last year. Normal Football Association rules would prevent this but an exception was made due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the men's game she has previously refereed in the National League.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States16171346
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Olympic Games Men's Football
Scottish Premiership
Pre-Season Friendlies
Portuguese Super Cup
Taca da Liga
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
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Belarusian Premier League
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