Casey Reibelt had a decision to make – pursue a career playing football, or follow her passion as a burgeoning young referee.
Reibelt played the game from a young age, and she would occasionally run the lines for her brother’s matches.
She completed her referees course at the age of 15, but was faced with a difficult choice when selected both as a player and as a referee at a junior carnival.
“I went with my gut feeling,” Reibelt remembers. “From then on, refereeing took front position."
With the experienced whistle-blower about to fulfil her lifelong ambition of officiating on the world’s biggest stage – the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France – it is safe to say she chose wisely.
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Last December, Reibelt and fellow Westfield W-League official Kate Jacewicz were confirmed as two of the three Australian representatives – along with Video Assistant Referee Chris Beath – in a 75-strong cohort of match officials appointed to oversee world football’s showpiece event.
Between them, the pair have won 10 of the last 11 Westfield W-League Referee of the Year Awards, with Jacewicz earning eight and Reibelt claiming two.
“It’s anyone’s dream to go to the World Cup if you’re involved in the game, whether it be as a player, coach or referee,” Reibelt told www.matildas.com.au.
“To get the opportunity is pretty amazing. I don’t know that it’s quite hit, I’ve just been so focused on final preparations – keeping healthy, keeping my fitness going, making sure of the little one percenters... that’s where my focus has been.”
Like Reibelt, Jacewicz began her love affair with football as a player before discovering her talent with the whistle.
"It's almost like a lifetime's work and plying your trade to get the experience you need to now move onto the world stage," Jacewicz said.
"It's amazing that Australia has two referees that are going to whistle…plus Chris Beath as Video Assistant Referee.
Three of us going is a very special achievement for Australian football."
Australia has history in providing top-class officials on the world’s biggest stage. At the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, Brisbane-born Tammy Ogston refereed Germany’s 2-0 win over Brazil in the Final, while Jacqui Melksham took charge of USA’s penalty shoot-out victory against Brazil at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany.