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Margaret Domka is on the FIFA International Panel of Referees. She is one of a select few officials to ever go onto the FIFA list as an assistant referee, come off that list, wait a year to qualify and then go back on the list as a referee. Domka started refereeing in 1993, gained her USSF National badge in 2006 and went onto the FIFA list for the first time in 2007. Domka, of Milwaukee, has also refereed NCAA National Championship tournaments in 2004 and 2006. She referees in the Women’s Professional Soccer league, and serves USSF as an assessor, instructor and mentor. Domka is a high school Spanish teacher and takes advantage of her Spanish skills by instructing referee clinics in Spanish.

REFEREE: Why did you leave the FIFA list as an assistant to come back on as a referee?

DOMKA: When I was invited to join the FIFA panel as an assistant referee, I was thrilled to be chosen. I was honored to have been nominated and excited to have the opportunity to be an assistant in international matches — seeing some of the best players in the world. After getting some game experience at that level, though, I realized that as honored as I was to be on the panel, I truly wanted to be a referee. I feel that the referee, assistant referees and fourth official must work together as a team in order to be successful. Therefore, none of those roles is more important than the others. But I desired the increased interaction with players that I have as a referee — along with the responsibility of leading the referee team.

REFEREE: What leadership skills must a quality referee have and why?

DOMKA: Each game has it own protocol and the referee must be able to work with players, coaches and stadium staff to make sure that protocol is met. Officiating successfully also requires a great deal of teamwork among the crew. The referee is in charge of initiating the crew’s communications well before game day and guiding the crew in their preparations for the game. The referee must also determine how the crew will communicate during the game. While each crew member’s responsibilities are equally important, a crew can only be successful if they are able to communicate necessary information to each other in appropriate ways and at appropriate times. Essentially, it is the referee’s job to make sure that each member of the crew is on the same page regarding what each other’s responsibilities are and what the expectations will be for the specific game that is being officiated.

REFEREE: How has your experience as a FIFA assistant referee helped to make you a better referee?

DOMKA: My experience as an AR has helped me in two ways. First, I had the opportunity to work with some of the top FIFA referees. I learned from them what to expect from each member of the referee team, along with how to communicate those expectations. I was able to observe and assist them with interactions between the players, coaches and stadium staff to ensure that game protocol was met. All of those experiences helped me know what to expect and how to manage game procedures when I became a FIFA referee.

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And second, I learned a great deal about the job of an AR. I now have a better understanding of some of the challenges ARs face in professional games, along with circumstances when they might be able to provide me with additional assistance on the field. My own experiences as an AR will certainly help me have a better idea of what to expect from my ARs and things that I can do to make their jobs easier.

REFEREE: What are your goals as a referee?

DOMKA: My big goal is to eventually be assigned to the Olympics and/or the Women’s World Cup. In the Women’s Professional Soccer league, my goal is to be able to serve the league well and consistently. I hope that my performance allows me to serve this professional league and others for several years to come. The league has recruited many of the world’s top players and the games promise to be exciting. In that league, the top team during regular-season play earns a bid into the championship game — and receives home-field advantage. All regular-season games, therefore, are very intense and important for the teams.

REFEREE: How did you advance to the level you are currently working?

DOMKA: When I was a very young referee working games as a summer job, I had no aspirations for advancement. Earning a FIFA badge was not even a consideration at that point. But I’ve had many fantastic mentors, assessors and instructors along the way that helped me realize what opportunities were available and supported me through every step of development. I can’t thank those people enough for their support. I hope that all mentors, assessors and instructors know their value and continue their involvement because their work does make a difference!

REFEREE: In addition to your onfield officiating, you instruct referee clinics in Spanish. What is involved in those clinics?

DOMKA: I have taught both entry level and re-certification clinics in Spanish for USSF. The course outlines and materials are exactly the same as in English, but allow Spanish speakers a better opportunity to learn from these courses and become more familiar with the Laws of the Game. There are very few certified instructors in Wisconsin that are bilingual, so I am able to help recruit referees who love the game, but may otherwise have a hard time becoming involved. Each of the courses I have taught in Spanish has been very fun and rewarding because the participants were extremely excited to learn about the game.

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