THREE female officials will break new ground when they take charge of the Wessex League premier division match between Totton & Eling and Lymington Town today.
Referee Lucy May, from Drayton, is joined by assistants Paula Wyatt, from Petersfield, and Amy Robinson, from Gosport, who will run the lines.
It is the first time a premier division contest has been presided over by three females.
And for May, 22, it is a reflection of the growing influence of female officials within the game.
She said: ‘It is going to be a big challenge but I am really looking forward to it.
‘This is not a publicity stunt by the league.
‘We are all here on merit because we have worked hard to achieve the marks we have had from assessors and from clubs this season.
‘Amy and Paula are fantastic assistants. They are two of the best in the league.
‘We are very close and it is great that we are now working together for a premier division game.’
With Wyatt aged 21 and Robinson just 17, it is a young team.
May believes this highlights the quality of female officials coming through the system.
She added: ‘There are a lot of strong females coming through and we have got two or three assistants looking to get into the middle for next season.
‘Amy is a little star for the future. She’s a good assistant and an even better referee.
‘It is Amy’s first season on the Wessex League and I see a lot of myself in her.
‘She’s been nurtured through and she has worked in the academies, making sure she is qualified to assist properly.’
May can certainly be regarded as a flag bearer for females making their way in the game.
And she is keen to help in anyway she can.
‘Everyone has bad games and I’ve had them where I’ve thrown the bag in the corner and thought “I’m never doing this again”,’ she said.
‘But I want to set the right example. When I was younger, working my up, I wanted people to have my back and now I’m in the position where I can be that person for the younger girls who are coming through.’
May has already tasted the big stage in the women’s game.
She ran the line in the FA Women’s Cup final between Bristol Academy and Arsenal.
May said: ‘I’ve had an amazing time. I was an assistant referee for the FA Cup final and an official for England matches against the USA and Sweden.
‘It has been a fantastic time for me and running the line in front of 20,000 people watching the Cup final was amazing.
‘Hopefully in a few years I will be in the middle for a final, with a sell-out crowd.
‘I love what I do and my aim in the men’s game is to get to the Football League.’
But despite the prestigious appointments, May’s main ambition is simply to continue being accepted as a referee in men’s football.
She added: ‘The biggest kind of compliment is at the end of the game when players say “you have had a good game, ref,” rather than “good game bird or girl”.
‘My aim is to become a Football League referee in men’s football but when I set a goal for myself and achieve it, then I want to go that bit higher and achieve more.’