ONE of Playford’s finest soccer talents is making national waves – from a neutral standpoint – as she prepares to work her first season as a top-tier referee.
Munno Para West resident Paula Orlandi will act as a linesman for the upcoming W-League season, which begins at the end of October.
Miss Orlandi said the reality that she’ll be officiating the premier women’s soccer competition in Australia still hasn’t sunk in.
“I’m still trying to get a handle on it, that I’m actually on the W-League as a referee,” she said.
“I don’t think it will feel real until I’m on the pitch.”
The 18-year-old said she has been refereeing for four years and only got involved in officiating after her dad pushed her to participate in a free training course.
“I was playing for Playford Patriots at the time and the club let me, and all the other girls in my team, know that there was a free scholarship for women to do refereeing,” she said.
“I didn’t take much interest in it at first, but my dad pushed me to give it a try.
“When I first started doing it, I was still playing, so I did the lines on a Saturday and would play my game on a Sunday.”
Miss Orlandi said she has lofty goals for her refereeing career, but doesn’t plan on being the lead official on the national stage.
“I, personally, just want to be a linesman and I don’t really see myself ever being a middle referee,” she said.
“I would love to work the lines for an A-League game and I’m really motivated by some of the other female referees who have officiated at that level of competition.”
Despite moving to Australia, from Argentina, in 2005, Miss Orlandi said her international soccer allegiance still lies heavily in favour of her country of birth.
“If they were playing against each other, I’d go Argentina all the way,” she said.
“But I do support Australia, especially the Matildas, because they’re amazing.”