Chastine Rankine is a familiar face on the Cayman football scene, best known as an official now, although she was one of the first women to play in regulated games in the Eighties.
Rankine has been involved in football since playing five-a-side in her teens for a George Town team behind Cayman Prep School.
A goalkeeper initially, she joined coach Ernie “Gillie” Seymour’s George Town and played in midfield and defense.
Rankine’s main involvement in football now is as a certified referee for the Cayman Islands Football Association, officiating at CUC Primary Football League matches and assisting the youth referees.
She also officiates in the Premier League, Sunday league, women’s league, youth leagues and Foster’s First Division matches.
Referees are a resilient bunch because of the incessant dissent and abuse they receive in an average match. So it’s not surprising when Rankine says that the most satisfaction she gets now is refereeing the CUC primary school games.
“It makes me feel good doing so and giving back to the community to help the youths of today,” she said. “I also enjoy getting respect from all the registered football teams in Cayman and giving them the same in return.”
There is no time to get involved in any other sport now, but she does help track and field youngsters get sponsors to travel if needed, and financially assists her son, Kareem, who plays rugby.
As a child, Rankine always loved football and wanted to play when she grew up, although structured women’s games were not widely played.
“I used to come as a youngster to play in Sunday games at the TE McField Annex and it was the best times ever,” she said.
“I also participated in netball for GT as a teenager, track and field, rugby, tennis, volleyball and softball.”
The 48-year-old Caymanian who works for the Department of Immigration as a FOI and appeals clerk, had two children, but sadly, her daughter Martika died at the age of 11 from leukemia almost 14 years ago.
“Both of them as children used to come out and watch me practice and they used to play football at a small age.”
Cayman football is under severe scrutiny at the moment. Rankine has mixed feelings. “We have come a long way and we are progressing in the right direction locally and overseas,” she said. “Our young men and women are on scholarships and they are doing excellent overseas.
“The change that I would like to see as a referee is that all referees and their clubs need to be on the same page.”
Rankine would also like to see officials’ facilities upgraded. She wants to see a rule introduced so when players are sent off, they either stay in their locker rooms or are escorted off the compound by security officers. “I would also like to see more of our local players – both men and women – become referees.”
To get more females into the game, she wants to encourage more primary school age girls to play in the CUC league and the existing programs in the schools.
“This will help them improve their football skills which will lead them to the Under-16 girls’ league and then on to the women’s league and hopefully with these skills to football scholarship[s] overseas, when scouted by coaches from different parts of the world to watch how good our girls can play.”
She also feels that more programs are needed for girls, either paid for by the government or the private sector.
Rankine added: “I am thankful to be a Caymanian and loving the football scene here, especially games in GT.
“The reason why I love football is through Pele. I watched him when I was growing up and he inspired me to become a footballer.
“I was so excited when Pele came to Cayman to watch a game here that it really made my day.” She has been immersed in the beautiful game ever since.