The First Female Referee for Male Volleyball Match
From National to International Referee
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Jeon Young-a of the Department of Sports and Arts ('94) majored in Coach Training and is recently recognized as the very first female referee to judge a male professional volleyball game in Korea. She was given the new title on December 18th 2016, when she first stood as the referee for male professional volleyball competition. Calling attention to the fact that there has not been any female referee to umpire male games previously, the significance is put on her as the first being. Feeling both excited and pressured with responsibility, Jeon has shared her impression about her achievement.
Met again in 10 years
In 2006, News H met with Jeon to interview her when she was named as the second female head referee to judge female professional volleyball competition. From then on, 10 years has elapsed and she gained another title as the first female referee for male professional volleyball match. This is a remarkable report as all previous male games were judged by male referees. A female umpire in male volleyball match is not unprecedented in international games but it is an aberration in Korea. “Despite female referees’ fitness and competency, they had never been able to stand in men’s competitions for no specific reason. Perhaps, Korea’s somewhat gender biased custom could be accountable for this. I am absolutely honored to be the first one and break the tradition,” remarked Jeon.
Comparing her current and past self, Jeon noticed several differences. In the past, as she explained, she strictly confined herself to the rules of the game and had less flexibility than she does now. With more experience, she earned the ability to comprehensively incorporate her empirical knowledge to judge various situations more faultlessly. She now tries to be more understanding of both players and the coaches, leading to judgment satisfied by both teams, the coaches, and the audience.
Jeon analyzed her experience and interpreted that there is a big difference in judging male and female games. In the case of female games, absorbing concentration is required since there are exchanges of long rallies between the teams. On the other hand, male players have quick and powerful attacks that make it hard for umpires to catch, thus necessitating agility and action freeze ability. The core difference lies on speed and rally duration between male and female games.
On a continuous journey
Nothing comes without effort, as did Jeon’s achievement. Since the last interview with News H, one of Jeon’s goal was to become an international referee, which she actualized in 2012. She confessed that she faced failures twice during her attempts and that overcoming the language barrier was the biggest impediment on her way. “In order to achieve your goals, it is unquestionably important to be passionate and hopeful. For me, however, I had age limits. The age of 41 is the limit for international referees and that is when I became one. I did not worry about aging, but about losing my passion,” noted Jeon.
Even after becoming an international referee, Jeon was not assigned to any of international competitions for two years due to many other proficient international referees in Korea. Only after a long wait did she finally get a chance to stand at an international match. She still has a goal yet to achieve, which is to umpire international games beyond Asian games and even Olympic competitions at last. Her goal for every set of matches she judge is to make sure every player feels fair and right and to minimalize criticism she gets.
“Working as a referee I had been featured in many online articles. This means I was subject to netizens’ judgment about my performance, which could either me positive or negative. I was hesitant to read those comments because negative comments make me feel discouraged. However, I came to embrace all comments and do my best to get praising comments only,” noted Jeon.
Link to the previous article in 2006
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Moon Ha-na
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