Wendy Fisher is an inspiration to female officials in football. She ran one line at last week’s match between Academy Sports Club’s Under-14s against the English pro side Swindon Town’s Academy.
By day she is an IT/administrative personnel with the Cayman Islands Government currently attached to the Department of Vehicles and Licensing and out of work hours Fisher is devoted to her family and also progressing as a football official.
She attained her FIFA badge on 1 January this year and is now a FIFA International Assistant Referee representing the Cayman Islands.
Being the baby sister of former football icon Winston Hurlston, Fisher at the age of ten was always at the TE McField Annex on Saturdays and Sundays to watch her brother and mentor play.
“I admired his skills,” Fisher says. “His knowledge of the game drew me to the sport. It was at that age that my dream of being in the football world began.
“I attended the former Cayman Islands High School, now John Gray High School and that is where my football interest and skills developed. I was encouraged by my brother to join the Yobbo Rangers woman’s team.”
The club was coached by her brother and Jocelyn Morgan. She also played for the George Town Sports Club women’s team and for the Cayman Islands national women’s team on numerous occasions.
Fisher gained a wealth of experience playing at national and international level. She was granted a football scholarship and played in Pulaski, Tennessee.
She was called the petite right midfielder of her college team. Travelling from state to state and studying, she recalls: “I’ve gained a lot of knowledge on and off the field of play.”
After a long break and embarking on family life, three kids later, Fisher decided to convert to becoming one of Cayman’s female referees.
“One day, I was sitting at my desk at work, and I saw an advertisement where the Cayman Islands Referee Association were recruiting new members.
“I made a note of the dates and times of the sessions and attended every session. I was determined to return to the sport that I loved so dearly.”
In 2010, she passed the theory exam. She acknowledges the encouragement of top local referees Alfredo Whittaker and Livingston Bailey to focus on her training and development.
Fisher is known for her swift movement on the touchline, where she serves as one of Cayman’s best female assistant referees.
She cherishes the fact that she has been serving the association as an assistant referee since qualifying.
Whittaker highlighted the fact that Fisher has participated in three Referee Assistance Programme Courses (RAP) conducted by FIFA Referee Instructor Peter Prendergast.
The RAP programme enhances referees’ skills to better manage their games in the 209 FIFA member associations.
Fisher constantly reminds herself the words carefully delivered by Prendergast at her first RAP fitness test: “The race is not for the swift, but for those who can endure it.
“I cherish those words on a daily basis and have used them as a motivating factor to never give up.”
She says passing the FIFA fitness test to be accepted on the international list was not an easy task.
However, her success came through hard work, dedication and commitment to intense training.
“I thank God that I was able to make personal sacrifices towards my family life and training, which made me successful in my endeavour,” she says.
“As a result, I was accepted by FIFA as an assistant referee to the 2013 FIFA International List of Referees representing the Cayman Islands.
Bailey is Chairman of the CIFA Referee Committee. Between him and Whittaker they are recruiting as many new officials as possible, including teenagers.
Bailey says: “I am very proud of Wendy’s achievement. Her commitment and determination to achieving her objective has paid off.
“CIFA referees’ technical instructors took very keen interest in her growth and development for the last two years and we are quite confident that she will do well on the international circuit.”
Fisher says: “I’m most grateful to my family and my referee colleagues who supported me, especially Carline Reid-Willis, Christopher Stewart and Swason Owen who are also international referees representing the Cayman Islands.
“Through their help and motivation, I stand as a proud Caymanian ready to launch my international refereeing career throughout the world.
“I am encouraging young Caymanian women to get involved in the refereeing programme locally and aim to advance their career at the international stage.
“The sport is growing, not just for men but women as well, so grab hold of the opportunities now and enjoy the success later.”