FOOTBALL: Spalding ref Louisa takes top award

MAKING HER MARK: Louisa Thorold, pictured with former England keeper Peter Shilton at the Peterborough and District Football league AGM. Photo: RWT Phototography
MAKING HER MARK: Louisa Thorold, pictured with former England keeper Peter Shilton at the Peterborough and District Football league AGM. Photo: RWT Phototography

It’s been an incredible year for football in South Holland – and Spalding referee Louisa Thorold has continued the winning trend.

One of the area’s most talented officials, Louisa has been named the Peterborough and District Football League’s referee of the year.

Her award comes hot on the heels of trophy-laden seasons for Holbeach United, Moulton Harrox and Spalding United – to name but a few.

She was presented with the Ralph Leigh Memorial Cup by legendary England keeper Peter Shilton at the league’s recent AGM – and although she admits the award came as a surprise, Louisa is keen to emulate the success of prominent female officials Sian Massey and Helen Fulcher and pursue a professional career in a trade that is dominated by men.

“It was a nice surprise,” admitted the teenager. “I feel my confidence has really grown in recent years and I don’t feel worried about making big decisions any more.

“I got a promotion to level six earlier this year and I’m certainly interested in refereeing as high as I can.

“My aim is to follow the likes of Sian and Helen and hopefully forge a career, it’s something I want to do.”

Louisa, who was the first-ever woman to officiate in a Peterborough Junior Alliance League cup final a few years ago, grew up among a family of referees. Both her dad Nigel and brother James are respected whistle-blowers at United Counties League level.

And while other aspiring girls may not have such an obvious route into the trade, she hopes her rise up the ranks may inspire a new generation of officials.

Louisa added: “I do feel the men respect me and the other girls now.

“I’ve always looked up to Sian and Helen, so hopefully I can be a role model to other girls too.”