Blog,  Interviews

Kate Jacewicz: Australian top referee who shares tips to make you become a better referee

Kate Jacewicz is an ambitious Australian referee. In 2019 she officiates at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and becomes part of the Hyundai A-League’s (men’s highest level) referee panel. I’m very happy she took the time to share her story and some very relevant tips for us as referees. Have a good read. Her debut in the A-League is on January 18 2020 with the game between Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets.

Kate Jacewicz during the Women's World Cup
Kate Jacewicz during the Women’s World Cup

The blog theme this month is becoming a better referee. I’ve already shared a story about visioning yourself 20 years ahead and tips for effective goal-setting. I hope this article inspires you to think about how you want to develop as a referee – and she’ll tell how she tries to improve each and every time. It’s not something you do by the start of the new year or season. After e-ve-ry game. “Making an error is not a reflection of your refereeing ability – what is more meaningful is how you respond and learn from them. ” 

Promotion to the A-League referee panel

Congratulations with your promotion to the Hyundai A-League (HAL) Referees Panel. How does that feel?

Kate Jacewicz: Thank you. At risk of sounding cliche, it feels like all the years of training, games/tournaments and learning from mistakes have all paid off. The recognition of my experience shows that consistency will bring opportunities.

Like any referee working towards promotion, I was selected as part of the candidates’ program for the HAL. Before leaving for France (FWWC), I had my viewing game on a second division match (National Premier League here in Australia). My second viewing game was my first match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Fortunately for me, both of those matches went well and I passed all KMD’s as well as meeting expectations on all other marking criteria. 

Kate Jacewicz in the Westfield W-League in 2020

What do you expect for the upcoming season?

Kate Jacewicz: Only to referee my first match in the Hyundai A-League. From there I will reassess any future goals. This is a new experience for me, I tend to limit my expectations. My only expectation is to prepare well and perform at my best.

Officiating at the 2019 Women’s World Cup

2019 was also the year of the Women’s World Cup. You started with Norway vs Nigeria and also officiated in the knock-out stage between Sweden vs Canada, plus three appointments as 4th official, for example in the bronze medal game. How would you describe the tournament for you? 

Kate Jacewicz: The experience was like living a dream. The atmosphere was electric and left me wanting more. The games I was lucky enough to be involved in challenged me in a way nothing else has. The intensity, decisions, management, communication and teamwork all pushed me to be at my best, and taught me I still have more to learn. Being taught by the best in the world and learning lessons I will never forget. Being apart of a team that shared the same highs and lows as you, as well as inspiring you to continue to be your best. Celebration of diversity and culture. Can I say I loved every minute of it??

Working with new team at WWCup

How was it to work with the CONCACAF assistant referees Kathryn Nesbitt (USA) and Chantal Boureau (Canada)?

Kate Jacewicz: Katy, Chantal and myself had never worked together before the WWC in France. But it was such a seamless transition and from my perspective, felt like I had been working with them for years.  They are both exceptional assistants and hold themselves to the highest professional standard. Not only did I develop as a referee from working with them, I also feel like I gained two amazing friendships with two incredible people, and I am so grateful we shared our first World Cup experience together.

Kate Jacewicz during the Women’s World Cup

Use of the video referee

On the AFC website you said: “Now with the introduction of VAR, that’s another challenge that we have had to rise to”. How did you experience working with VAR and what do you expect from that in the A-league?

Kate Jacewicz: I knew it would be a challenging concept at first, while we were learning it. However, the way FIFA taught us was not only efficient (due to the time in which we had to learn it), it was also a challenge welcomed by all of us. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being trained in VAR by the best in the world. What I expect from the A-League is much of the same and I will use it in a similar way we were trained at the WWC. I am thankful for the experience I gained from FIFA and the WWC, so I am much more prepared to take on the challenge in the men’s first division here in Australia.

Two Aussie refs at the Women’s World Cup

During the Women’s World Cup in France I saw fellow Australian referee Casey Reibelt live from the stands. Two Aussies at a big tournament. How important is that for refereeing in your country? 

Kate Jacewicz: It was the first time Australia had two referees selected for a major FIFA tournament. Certainly a major achievement for both of us, as well as Australian football. I love the story that Casey and I share. We met over ten years ago at a National Youth championships, have been good friends since then. Started on the W-League together. Now selected for our for first WWC together. And I don’t believe this is the end of the milestones we will share together!

8 times Referee of the Year

You’re the record holder of the Westfield W-League Referee of the Year award winning eight times. Because you’ve been at a major tournament now, you probably have inspired lots of (young) female referees in your country . How do you see your role as ambassador for that?

Kate Jacewicz: Only to lead by example. I hold myself to the highest standards and never compromise on what I value – being a good person. I also highly value learning. Learning and achievements go hand in hand. I want to show that you can achieve something and still continue to reach higher and achieve more. Surpass your own expectations – take on the learnings (which most of the time, comes from mistakes!).

Kate Jacewicz during the 2016 Women’s u17 World Cup Final

Honest self-reflection, commitment and consistency is key to your personal development. Hard work isn’t saying you’re going to work hard. It’s the hours of training during the week; the hours of studying the game – which obviously includes watching the game for enjoyment and supporting your colleagues too! 

Kate Jacewicz’ future goals

What are your future goals? You’ve been at one World Cup now. The 2023 WWC might be held in Australia, one of the candidate host countries. What will you do to get a spot at that tournament? And what will you do to make your stay in the A-League a success?

Kate Jacewicz: Future goals include working towards an Olympics selection. I am also ready to commit to another 4 year WWC 2023 candidates campaign. For these goals, I certainly plan ahead. Preparation is key to any success. Taking the time to plan your schedule and set small goals inside big goals enables me to keep motivated and on track. What I have found throughout my career, if I may be cliche again, is that the most meaningful and significant experience is the journey; the destination is just a bonus! 

(Reading tip: check out tips for effective goal-setting as referee).

As for the A-League, I will continue to prepare the way I prepared for the WWC and referee to the best of my ability. I acknowledge that this is a new landscape for me personally, but I believe in myself and my abilities and am ready to rise to the challenge.

3 crucial tips for all referees

What advice would you give young referees? 

Kate Jacewicz: 

  1. Do not fear mistakes. Mistakes are a tool for learning and critical to your development. That’s how we gain experience after all. Acknowledge that you have made an incorrect decision, but do not personalise the decision. You have made it but it is not yours. It is not something that you should carry around and weigh you down. After the match (very important!) self reflect, ask questions, re-watch the incident (if you can), read the Laws of the Game – find and understand the answer for yourself. What was best for the game, not trying to prove yourself right – at the cost of the game! Making an error is not a reflection of your refereeing ability – what is more meaningful is how you respond and learn from them.  
  2. Treat those involved in the game (players, coaches, officials, other referees and of course the game!) the way you would like to be treated. Respect is a powerful and uniting quality. At times we may question why we should give certain people respect when they don’t show the same in return. My answer to myself is always, never compromise my own beliefs and values because of things out of my control. Their behaviour is a reflection of them, not of you; and your behaviour is a reflection of you. What do you want to be remembered by?
  3. Enjoy yourself. Football is a game we are apart of because we love the game. Before you enter the pitch, find a way to relax and be happy. You are at your best when you are the best version of yourself.

Want to self-reflect? Do the scan

Do you want to reflect on yourself? Make sure to do the selfscan on my blog. Below you’ll see the procedure, on the blog you’ll read how to implement that in your routine.

Summary of selfscan for referees


  • Jim Lacey

    There seems to be a common theme throughout her thoughts: make positive contributions to and learn from your fellow referees, the teams and players and games you officiate, and yourself as a ref. Good stuff.

  • Alan Thomas

    Good to hear we have to be humble and honest with ourselves. Mistakes can be made, but learn from them. Very important is the self reflection but to learn and move forward positively. Loved how she noted “what is best for the game” in her tips section.

    Great interview!

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