Dianne Ferreira-James set to make history
… first Guyanese to officiate in World Cup finals By Frederick Halley
Guyana Chronicle
June 23, 2002

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SHE was once branded the “Wonder Girl of Sports” and is unquestionably Guyana’s most versatile sportswoman.

There’s hardly a sports discipline in which Dianne Therese Ferreira-James has not participated - some with huge and others with moderate successes.

The 31-year-old, who captained Guyana in last year’s regional women’s cricket tournament in St Vincent, has made a quantum leap in football refereeing which she took up just four years ago.

Following her successful stint in the CONCACAF Under-19 Women’s World championships final in Trinidad and Tobago last month, Ferreira-James has been selected to officiate in the World Cup championships in Edmonton, Canada, from August 17 to September 1, 2002. The other two female referees selected are Kari Seitz of the USA and Jill Anta Proctor of Canada while there are three assistant referees in Linda Bramble (Trinidad and Tobago), Isabella Tovar Diaz (Mexico) and Denise Robinson (Canada).

Ferrereira-James thus has become the first female Caribbean referee appointed to “carry the whistle” in a world championship and the first from Guyana, male of female, to achieve the phenomenal feat.

She has already been identified for the Gold Cup championships, competed for among seniors, to be staged in Canada in October and has her sights set on the senior women’s World Cup to be held in China. The preliminary rounds for this tournament kicks off on June 30 and the top female referee will be in Jamaica to run on the field when the hosts battle with Puerto Rico. A good showing, leading up to the finals in China, will certainly guarantee her a place in the prestigious championships.

How did she get into what is regarded in some quarters as a man’s domain?

According to Dianne, she started playing football at the school level and by 1995 was leading Guyana against Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago at home and in the two Caribbean islands.

Gerald Laurie, a leading referee in those days, advised her to turn her attention to refereeing. He initiated a training programme for her along with Kim Babb, Donna Talbert and Shelly Daly.

By 1997, the four aspirants had all passed the local referees examination and Dianne’s first stint was as an assistant referee for a one-year period.

Again, through Laurie’s guidance, inspiration and advice, Dianne moved a step further and was soon into the “real action”, running among the Under-17s, Under-20s and second division players.

In 1998, she was elevated to the first division status but prior to that she had attended a FIFA Futuro Course at the Guyana Defence Force Headquarters.

Ferreira-James was high in praise of the course, which was conducted by FIFA representative, Canadian Constantinos Dino Souplitos. She explained that the course contents included Administration, Sports Medicine, Coaching and Refereeing and there were over 100 participants.

At the conclusion of the course, the FIFA instructor recommended that she should officiate in more games as he opined that she possessed all the attributes of becoming a top class referee.

According to Dianne, the Guyana Football Federation (GFA) then started to “pay more attention” to her with leading referee, the late Evaroy Babb, encouraging her immensely.

In 1999, Dianne was appointed a FIFA referee, the first in Guyana and the second in the English-speaking Caribbean, the other being Casey Moore of Trinidad and Tobago.

The same year, she should have made her first international appearance in the women’s World Cup in Los Angeles. However, because of the suspension imposed on Guyana by FIFA, Dianne was unable to attend.

The ban being lifted, Dianne was back into her strides, officiating in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-15 tournament, featuring Antigua and S. Kitts in Antigua; the CONCACAF Under-17 World Cup preliminary between Guyana and Puerto Rico; all levels of local matches; friendly internationals and the annual Kashif & Shanghai Christmas extravaganza.

Her stints in 2001 included the CFU Club championships, Copa Caribe tournament which saw Guyana, St Maarten, Cuba and the Dominican Republic participating; Group 2 of the Under-19 Women’s World Cup championships in Jamaica and Group 3 in Haiti.

Earlier this year, Dianne was invited to officiate in the Federation Cup (senior level) final between Haitian All Stars and Helenites of St Thomas.

To date, Ferreira-James has officiated in 177 games, over a four-year period and credits her skill in her ability to stay fit as refereeing demands.

Currently, she works with a strict training programme by the world’s governing body for football, FIFA, and also trains with Guyana’s senior football coach, Cornel Millington. The ‘workouts’ with Millington take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and according to her, she still has to complete a Cooper Test (Fitness) before going off to Canada for the Under-19 World Cup tournament..

Apart from Laurie and the late Babb, Dianne also had special praise for assistant referee, Lawrence ‘Sparrow’ Griffith. She also recounted the support from the-then GFA and now Guyana Football Federation (GFF); Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Gail Teixeira; and the Guyana Police Force for granting her the necessary time off.