GRACIE TOMLIN has praised the decision for female referees in the Qatar World Cup.

The World Cup in Qatar will make history as it will be the first to have female referees in charge of matches.

The three females of the 36 referees that have been selected are Stepanie Frappart, Yoshimi Yamashita and Salima Mukansanga.

Aspiring referee Gracie, 16, who lives in Canvey Island and has played football for over six seasons with Island Girls, Canvey Island and Rayleigh Eagles.

Echo: Gracie TomlinGracie Tomlin

She said: “I think it’s amazing that we have women in the World Cup this year and even more so in a country like Qatar for me it breaks down huge barriers and if I’m honest I will be watching the games with female referees in even if they are countries I’m not interested in.

“Watching just to see how they handle themselves and what kind of respect they receive, in my opinion it doesn’t matter what gender you are and you shouldn’t be judged on that you should be judged on the quality of the performance you put in as a referee.”

Gracie has ambitions to become a referee on the biggest stages of football and is currently working with the Essex FA to gain experience on the pitch.

She said: “My hopes for the future are to go right to the top of the game and have as many young girls see me as someone whose footsteps they want to follow in.

“It’s not going to be easy and its going to get tougher the higher I go but I have confidence that when I put my black kit on that I’m going out there to contribute to a good game with a positive vibe that all enjoy win lose or draw.

“I have just passed my 16th birthday so I can now start to look into taking on games at higher levels and progressing with the Essex FA who have been hugely supportive since day one.

“Lukas Wood has been immense from day one sorting the mentors to come see me and keeping me updated on everything I need to update and do on this refereeing journey and I’m really grateful to Lukas as without his updates I would be lost.

“So it’s great that the Essex FA are helping referees move forwards.”