Referee Lina Lehtovaara officiates the 2022 women’s UEFA Champions League final. The Finnish match official has been named as a Euro 2022 referee as well. In this story she shares some valuable insights for you as a referee.
Know what you expect of your team
“I’ll be responsible for the final decisions”, is what referee Lina Lehtovaara says. She speaks with Uefa reporters before the final. “But I’ll obviously need my team’s support, and I’ll be giving them every bit of help that I can as well. With a fourth official and VAR also part of the team, it will be important to know what we must all expect from each other.”
A good lesson for you too when you go out with a team of match officials, because it can improve the team performance. Be clear and precise at the pre-match talks and discuss what you expect from each other.
Who is your support team?
As a referee you’re off to your games a lot. It’s not just at the professional level, but many referees at lower levels also spend 1 day of their weekend to officiate games. It’s then a pleasure to have the support from your partner, children and family. Referee Lina Lehtovaara is thus very pleased her support team is also on the stands for the final in Turin.
“I’ll have eight family members in the stand – my husband, my parents, two brothers and a sister, one of my brother’s children and my aunt. I want to underline that without their support, I would never have reached this stage and be refereeing this final.”
Be grateful that they give you the support, but also be aware to make time for them when you can.
Keep up with your fitness
Football becomes faster and faster, but are you able to adapt to that as a referee? “I’m honestly a little surprised at how much and how fast it’s developed.” Luckily Lehtovaara could keep up with this and from a 2017 WEURO 4th official she progressed to a role as referee for the 2022 Euro in England. One of the things that changed for her and her colleagues was the level of physical performance they had to deliver. “We’ve had to really step up our ‘game’, especially in terms of speed and fitness, because everything in matches is happening so much faster now.”
That’s something you should be aware of as well. To keep up with play is crucial: you can see things better, but also sell things better when being close. Make sure you know the importance of physical training for referees (interview) and you do for example the exercises shared on this blog.
Wish Referee Lina Lehtovaara good luck
Wish referee Lina Lehtovaara good luck on my Instagram post and let me know your thoughts of the game.