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Referees Corner

I always worry about my performance

Joo-Hee Kang is a former volleyball player for Korea national team She started playing for the juniors team when she was 15 before moving up to the senior team at 18 and then retiring at 21 in order to pursue her university studies. She took an international referee course for the first time in 1999 and completed her licence in 2002. She was officially nominated to become an international referee in 2005.


Refereeing at the World Cup is a very special honour. When you find out you have been called upon for such an event, it is a great feeling. It is one of the events all referees aim to reach so it fills me with great pride to be in Japan, especially as one of only five female officials here.

There are many things that make refereeing enjoyable. Travelling to new countries, meeting new friends and getting the chance to be a part of some top quality volleyball events are just a handful of many. This is my first World Cup but being at the Finals of the World Grand Prix was also special.

However, one of the main reasons I became a referee was to make sure I stayed involved in volleyball, even after I retired. As I wasn’t keen on coaching this was one of the only options!

Kun Tae, who is a former Korea men’s referee who retired last year, was very influential for me and is considered a legend. It is great to follow in his footsteps, he is still my role model and I still ask him for advice today. I don’t think he’ll ever stop being my teacher as I always want to improve.

As a ref I like to try and give players more of a chance to play the game properly. My biggest problem is always worrying about my performance. I always want to do well and not make any mistakes.

I’m very proud of my life. I had the chance to play for my country at the 1990 World Championships, the Asian Games and the 1989 World Cup during a time that volleyball way one of the only sports to receive recognition from the government. Since then, I am glad to see it has moved on and I am glad to still be a part of this wonderful sport.

It's not only the players who have to be at their best

Susana Rodríguez Játiva is an international referee from Spain.

Less then a month has passed since the last competition and we are already immersed in another. This time it is the European Women's Championship held in Italy and Serbia. To my knowledge, it is the first time that among the 16 referees who are participating, four female referees are appointed to the event (Zorica Bjelic of Serbia, Karin Zahorkova from Czech Republic, Heike Kraft from Germany and myself), and three of us will be in the final phase.

I am one of the lucky ones as I'll spend the competition in Belgrade until the end of the competition. The CEV also strongly supports the promotion of female referees, and has been doing so for some time, and this is another example of this.

Many colleagues think that we, female referees, are competitors and that our relationship is not good, but they are very wrong, we are good friends and celebrate when one gets a good appointment. We're just good mates and are glad of the successes of others and try to progress together, without tripping or elbowing, it isn’t our style. I am very happy to meet them again in a competition, and it will certainly not be the last time.

It so happens that at the headquarters in Belgrade all the line judges, the scorer and the assistant scorer are also women, which may be a pioneering feat in the world.

It's hard being away from home again though, and I am missing my family very much, but I know they support me and this allows me to stay focused on my matches and do a good job.

I’m sure it's a great competition because it involved high-level teams, and once again we, the referees.

We must work to also be at a good level. I am convinced that everything will go well.


It was always my dream to be a referee

FIVB Referee Heung Fai Lee from Hong Kong talks about what it's like juggling the life of an official with family life

I am proud to be a volleyball referee not because I am a female referee, but because I do it for my favorite sport.

It was my dream to become an international referee when I was a teenager. Seeing a lady scorer working for Challenge Cup, the only FIVB level competition being held in my city, Hong Kong, I wished that one day I can be the one of referees officiating matches.

I got my license as an international referee in 1999 and first whistled a FIVB competition in 2001. I have special feeling with the World Grand Prix as I have been working as a referee in the tournament since 2007. It was a big challenge for me to referee in front of 10,000 volleyball fans in my home town. But I like this kind of pressure. It pushed me to improve each match.

This year I was so glad to be one of the three female referees being nominated to got to Peru for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Junior World Championship. Thanks to the FIVB I had the chance to whistle such high level matches. I hope, in my future, I get more chances to serve for the matches.

With the traditional mind and concept, it is really not so easy to act as a referee while having to take care of my family and my child. I am thankful for my family members who give me great support so that I can continue my referee career. There is no doubt that I could not do well without their understanding and cooperation. They energize me to keep working for volleyball.

Presence of female referees makes life easier

Referee Zorica Bjelic hails from Serbia and officiated in her seventh FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix in August.

The recent World Grand Prix was the seventh final tournament at which I refereed and it was totally different from previous editions.

This year the competition system was changed and for the first time teams played semifinal and final matches, which gives a special charm to the competition.

It was a first for the referees as well as they tried a combination of four women referees with four men in the final tournament, which is another significant innovation, which I enjoyed because I've mostly been alone with my male colleagues over the past few years!

For us women, the presence of female colleagues means a lot, because it is much easier to share with each other some of our "women's" stories about children, families and some problems.

When we were not on the court, we spent a lot of time together, reveling in the environment in which we stayed seven days.

I am happy to have seen much of the culture, customs, cuisine and the historical heritage of every country or city in which I stay.

All this contributes to a better mood and believe it or not, into the part of the preparations for the match.

I sincerely hope that in the future, there will be even more qualified women referees allowed to appear in the biggest volleyball tournaments.

We have a great responsibility

Susana Rodríguez Játiva is an international referee from Spain. Here she recounts her experiences in various international competitions throughout the world from the point of view of a referee...

Since I did my international course in 2000 in Sofia, Bulgaria when I was 25 years old, I have been designated in many competitions for CEV and FIVB, three European Championships, many final four games and several club competitions in Europe, eight editions of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, five editions of the FIVB Volleyball World League, and many other matches. I just feel lucky and privileged to have been able to referee in these competitions.

In the last year many of my dreams as a referee came true because I attended two World Championships, the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan and the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championships in Qatar for the first time, and this year I have the great honour to be enjoying refereing in the World Grand Prix finals for the first time in my career. I have also been appointed for the Club Wolrd Championship again. This is really fantastic and I'd love some other dreams of mine to become reality in the near future, so I will work to try.

For a referee to be in major competitions means many things. On the one hand, there are feelings of happiness for the nomination, we have a great responsibility because we can not make mistakes or as little as possible and we are under pressure because of the requirement for the level of competition. But the goal is always to try and go unnoticed, the protagonists are not us, but the players. We must do our work always the best way possible but remain in the background. And that’s the difficulty.

I am now in Macau for the Finals of the World Grand Prix, and it is really impressive. We are very fortunate to referee to possibly the eight best women's teams in the world: Brazil, USA, Italy, Russia, Serbia, China, Japan and Thailand. Different playing styles, tactics, physical conditions, and so on, require good preparation from referees, knowledge of the rules and concentration to blend and to be up to the teams. Who will win? We do not know. We are completely neutral.

In addition there is the fact that for the first time in history there are four women referees in this tournament, another sign of FIVB interest in promoting female referees. But I would think that I am here not so much for being a woman but for being a good referee. In any case, thanks for having me in mind FIVB.