Patterson shines as FFA Cup referee

For everyone else, Tuesday was a momentous night for women in football, but for Katie Patterson it was just another step.

When Patterson began the FFA Cup match between Melbourne Victory and Rockdale City Suns, she created history as the first female to officiate a national-level match.

As with all groundbreakers, she was always going to have a spotlight shining brightly on her.

So in the most thankless role in sport, Patterson set about the business of keeping the A-League champions in check.

Her key moment arrived in the second half, when she awarded a penalty against the biggest club in Australia.

FFA referee boss Ben Wilson said the most pleasing thing wasn’t pointing at the spot.

“It was that she had the courage to give the penalty at a big moment in a big match, knowing they’d be a lot of pressure and dissent from the players,” he said.

“She didn’t shirk it, she saw it and awarded it, it was a very good sign.”

Wilson gave a glowing review of her “outstanding” performance.

“She more than held her own in a match that would have been the quickest she’s ever refereed,” he said.

Patterson, 25, said her stony expression wasn’t nerves or fear but her game-face.

“You’ve got to be in the zone, right?” she laughed.

Now Patterson is ready for the next challenge, and for women refereeing big games to be not as a big deal.

“I don’t think (my gender) needs to be a focus of why I’ve acheived what I’ve achieved,” she said.

“It’s in the back of my mind that this is a big deal and it hasn’t been done before.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work, maybe even more hard work to overcome some of the different stereotypes but I see this as a reflection of that, patience, dedication and a love of the game.”

Back at work as a management consultant with Deloitte on Wednesday, Patterson says there are plenty of synergies between refereeing and her day job.

“It’s all about making hard decisions and talking straight,” she said.

“And at the end of the day you’ve contributed to something bigger than you.”

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