Fighting for equality: Law Bik-chi plans to be first woman to referee a Hong Kong Premier League match
Match official closing in on quest to take charge at top level of domestic men’s game
Referee Law Bik-chi aims to claim another first for women in Hong Kong soccer, following in the footsteps of trailblazing coach Chan Yuen-ting, who steered Eastern to the league championship in 2016.
Having been a referee at various levels for more than a decade, Law quit her full-time job last year to try to become the first female match official to operate at the highest level of the domestic game – the Hong Kong Premier League.
“I started as a referee in 2006, becoming a Fifa women’s referee in 2013, and now my target is to be the first female match official in the Hong Kong Premier League,” said Law, who took part in a refereeing course conducted in Hong Kong by English Premier League referee Bobby Madley ahead of Wednesday’s EPL Asia Trophy.
“The Bundesliga is going to have its first female referee in the new season and this is going to bolster our intention to have the same thing happen in Hong Kong,” said Law.
In Germany, 38-year-old police officer Bibiana Steinhaus was last month named one of the four new referees in the top flight for the 2017-18 season.
“It’s never going to be easy for me,” said Law, “as I have to match the physical fitness levels of my male counterparts and, more importantly, I have to gain the level of experience the Hong Kong Football Association considers sufficient before I can officiate a Premier League match.”
Law, 32, quit her stable job as a physical education teacher last year to invest more time in realising her dream. “I have been the match official for international competitions between top women’s countries of the region. At home, I have also worked as the match official for the First Division and the Reserve League [contested by Premier League teams]. I have also been the assistant referee and fourth match official in the Premier League. There is just one more step to achieve my goal.”
Law was involved in a training camp conducted by the English Premier League in March where she was able to learn from several EPL referees, including Madley.
“She came over to our training camp for Premier League referees and spent a couple of days with us,” said Madley, one of England’s six Fifa international referees. “She is clearly very talented and can look forward a strong career, along with other female referees. I hope she can bring some valuable experience to Hong Kong.”
The English match official expects to see more female referees in the near future. “There has been a push to develop women refs in the last 10 to 15 years and so now we are starting to see many of them breaking into the professional game, I have no doubt in the next five years we will see more female referees in the top divisions,” said Madley.