International FIFA Referee Shares Her ExperiencesFour years at university is scarcely a short period of time. Nevertheless, how many people can confidently say that they have achieved everything they wanted to do during that period? Probably not many. But there is a girl who not only proudly says that she has done this, but also declares that she has finally reached the goal she has longed for since junior high - being a referee. She is Hong Eun-Ah (Exercise and Sports Science, 4) and she is making it to the cover in all sorts of publications as the youngest Korean international Women"s Referee for FIFA.
Hong recently became one of the four Korean International Women? Referees certified by FIFA and the Korea Football Association (KFA). She is only 23 years old, and still a university student at Ewha, which makes her not only the first non-player referee but also the youngest. "It all depends on how you talk about it, so I try not to put too much thought into it," says Hong, cooly dismissing all the records that she has so far set, including becoming the youngest domestic referee for the KFA at age 20.
And it"s true. These titles are not enough to show you half of what Hong is like. Like she said, they are merely "names." Though she gained the spotlight nationally through being the youngest International Woman Referee, her passion for sports goes back a long way.
"My dream, from middle school, was to become a PE teacher," says Hong. But being an outstanding student - ranking one of the top ten students at the school - was actually a barrier for her because her parents had "higher" hopes for her. "My parents wanted me to go to medical school. I used to lower my grades on purpose so that my parents would let me practice sports," she recalls, with a laugh. She flew to New Zealand in 1996, only to join the local school soccer team. She came back a year later, with her parents reluctant permission to continue playing sports.
"Entering Ewha Womans University changed my goals from being a teacher to becoming a referee," says Hong. So right after admission, she set out looking for ways to achieve her goal, from attending seminars to exercising three hours a day, and also visiting the KFA. She was first certified as the youngest national second-class referee at the end of her first year, then was selected to go to Liverpool, England as an exchange student. She acquired her first-division certification there, and, this January, she was certified as an International Women"s Referee.
Hong is also designated to receive a full scholarship for her excellence in scholastic performance and go on to the Ewha Graduate School of Business Administration. "I"ve wanted to study something totally different from my major, and my ultimate goal is to work in sports marketing, so I thought it was a great chance," says Hong.
When asked to give a word of advice to Ewha students, she thought for a moment, then gave the most original answer; ""Find what you want to do, and go for it. Don"t waste your four years at Ewha just sitting in a coffee shop."
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