Rugby Referee & Officating Hub Manager
From an early age Kirsten has always been involved with sports. University has been no different where Kirsten has undertaken a range of roles during her studies including as a member of both the Athletic Union Welfare and Club Development Sub-Committees, a Lightning Netball and Super Rugby volunteer, and as a referee.
Tell us a little bit about yourself (hobbies, interests and background):
From an early age I have always been involved with sport as that was one of the main hobbies shared by my whole family. I began playing football from the age of 5 with my local boys’ team and then moved to girl’s rugby aged 11. A lot of my favourite childhood memories revolve around sport; from watching my dad play rugby every Saturday, or going to Twickenham with my 5 sisters to watch England vs New Zealand. Outside of sport, I have been fortunate to grow up in a seaside town just outside of Brighton where there are many opportunities to get involved in all kinds of fun things and meet people from all walks of life.
How did you first get involved in volunteering within sport at Loughborough?
I was first involved in volunteering during my first year where I applied to be on the Athletic Union Welfare Sub-Committee after encouragement from friends. As I learnt more about the AU and the Coach and Volunteer Academy (CVA), I was made aware of all the roles and courses I could get involved in on the CVA portal. This is where I saw the Rugby Referee Award being advertised and decided to sign myself up.
During your years at Loughborough what have you got involved in through volunteering within sport?
Within my first two years as a referee, I have been selected as one of twelve in the country to sit on the RFU National Youth Council- a body which represents the youth in rugby and helps to shape the game for 16-24-year olds. I was also given the opportunity to participate in a strength and conditioning programme with some of the best female referees in the world. I was able to chat to women who are the few current international female referees and gain incredible insight into what it takes to be a professional referee. Aside from the more serious achievements, one of my favourite experiences was being Bolt the mascot at a Loughborough Lightning netball game!
What has your experience volunteering been like whilst at Loughborough?
My experience of volunteering has been very rewarding; both in the sense that I feel proud to have contributed to the running of sport at Loughborough and also in the sense that I have gained a lot from my volunteering in terms of the opportunities I have received. All the staff are very supportive and want the best for you which makes you feel very connected to the Loughborough family.
How has being involved with Loughborough Sport helped you develop and progress (personally and professionally)?
My involvement within the CVA has allowed me to network with many RFU employees and has opened up many opportunities both within and outside of the game. Without the initial opportunity to become a referee within the CVA, and the continued support, I would not have achieved the feats I have today. The prospect of becoming a professional referee and working within the RFU is now a tangible dream made possible only through the dedicated work of the CVA whom have continuously fought my corner; constantly providing me with opportunities to keep developing with my reffing and helping to build bridges with individuals who have opened up many doors.
What’s the best advice you could give to a Loughborough student looking to get involved in volunteering & gain the most out of their university experiences?
The best advice I can give to anyone is to say “yes” to everything- even if you just try it for a year, you’ll be incredibly surprised what comes your way. Your time at University is one of the rare times in life you’ll get to explore lots of different things and find out what you enjoy, so take that jump!
Finally, what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
My favourite part of volunteering is the feeling of being a valuable asset to whatever you are involved in. Every volunteer is incredibly important to the event and it is very rewarding to know your contribution is enabling sport to go on- whether that is at the grassroots level or elite. Knowing that your time and energy goes into something which brings people together whilst doing something they enjoy is truly great.