2020 was a big year for Anasta Savva.
At just 17 years of age, she won the inaugural Bendigo Bank Community Referee of the Year Award and earned the Airlie Keen Female Referee of the Year Award for her contribution to the Adelaide Hills Referees' Branch, to cap off a stellar year on the pitch.
Initially inspired to pick up the whistle by her sister, Anasta acknowledges she had plenty to learn when first becoming a match official.
“I was playing soccer at the time but had no idea about referees and how they made match decisions. So, I guess, my sister inspired me to become a referee and learn so much more about the world game.”
Anasta shows passion and dedication beyond her years. Her commitment earning her rights as the most appointed female referee in the Adelaide Hills during 2020, officiating more than 30 games. In reflecting on her achievements last year, the greatest teaching to come of her success is that hard work does pay off.
“As a female referee, it was great to be recognised in a sport dominated by males. Receiving both awards last year, I think has really encouraged me to keep working hard. Subconsciously, I think that it has set a bit of a standard so that this year I continue to improve my refereeing skills and referee at higher levels than last year.”
Anasta looks up to many people in the world of female sport for motivation and inspiration, but those in her local network have had the greatest influence on her refereeing journey.
“It's hard to pinpoint just one. Kate Jacewicz is an amazing role model for female referees, but mostly I look up to referees a bit closer to home, such as Airlie Keen, Isabella Blaess, Paula Orlandi and my good friend Jackie Megson. I have occasionally worked with these four women, whether it's on game day or at training. They are super knowledgeable and encouraging and it's awesome to meet them in person and then watch them referee high-level games”.
Anasta also recognises the benefits refereeing has had in her development off the pitch.
“Refereeing has helped me develop so many skills which I use in everyday life. Leadership, decision making, resilience and confidence, just to name a few. As I am still in high school, these skills have provided me with many leadership opportunities, improved my public speaking skills, enabled me to organise my personal, school and sport life.”
Each of the skills learned from officiating helping to shape the person she is today.
After obtaining her Level 3 Referee Accreditation in 2020, Anasta has taken it upon herself to pass on her knowledge and experience through mentoring emerging referees. Her message to young girls looking to become match officials is to
“GO FOR IT! You learn so much, meet amazing people and have opportunities to referee awesome games, you really have nothing to lose. Women's football is really taking off, especially in Australia and there is no better time to become a referee then right now!”.
So where to next for Anasta? As someone who loves refereeing local games and mentoring younger referees in the Adelaide Hills, she’s not looking too far ahead.
“Occasionally I have dreamt of going all the way to the World Cup but I really don't know, I guess aiming for the WNPL is a good place to start.”
Do you want to become a referee? Visit the links below to enrol in upcoming courses:
- Saturday 20 March 2021, Coopers Stadium Hindmarsh - https://education-ffa.sportingpulse.com/event.asp?ID=23011
- Saturday 3 May, Valo Football Centre - https://education-ffa.sportingpulse.com/event.asp?ID=23012
Nominations for the Bendigo Bank Community Referee of the Month for March will open later this month. More details on how to nominate will be released in the coming weeks.