Top women’s referee reveals ‘freak accident’ forced her out of on-field duty

Referee Iola Simmons gives a player a stern look during a Premier Division fixture at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Renowned female referee Iola Simmons has revealed that she has been forced to retire as an active referee and is now serving the game she loves in another capacity.

Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Simmons, who said she was involved in a “freak accident” last year, further revealed that the incident significantly affected her ability to carry matches as an on-field referee and forcing her into her current role as a FIFA assessor.

“I had a freak accident last year and it brought about some challenges and changes that I had to adjust to, and instead of moving away entirely from football and refereeing because, I have grown to love it, I’ve decided that I might as well put my other aspects because there are also a lot of opportunities in the other aspects of it,” he said.

Although Simmons did not go into details about her “freak accident” reports are that the incident negatively impacted her vision in both eyes. 

The now former referee, who was regarded as one of the top officials here and across the region, said her fast climb to the top here came with many challenges.

“It was extremely challenging but the good thing about it is that it helps you to build character. It helps you to become this other person that you never expected you’d turn out to be so it was a means of development for me in itself and it is indeed a good field for other females to venture into because it really does change you into another person,” she said. 

Simmons, who had been a FIFA referee since 2013, credited those around her for the motivation and support that propelled her to the top of the game.

“I’ve had a lot of support in itself because you have the on-field training and the off-field because there are some things you do not learn either way [on or off the field] but you have to learn it during the course of it so there was a support system during it all. I knew there were times when I didn’t want to continue but they encouraged me and said, you have to push on,” she said.

Simmons was amongst four referees in Antigua on the FIFA list. The others are Iroots AppletonKevin Peters and Wasnah Barnarde.

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