South African fans at the Rio Sevens (Getty)
Cape Town - South African referee Aimee Barrett on Friday described the experience of officiating at the Olympic Games in Rio as incredible, and she inspired women at home to follow their dreams, just as she did.
Barret and fellow South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge were named on the referee panel for the Women’s Sevens at the Olympic Games, where Australia took the Gold Medal on Tuesday.
“My experience of the Olympic Games was great,” said Barrett. “The team of match officials was incredible. The ladies with whom I refereed were very experienced, and I certainly learned a lot from them.
“Being on the field was an amazing experience. I had goose bumps every time I ran through the tunnel, and it was special to experience the atmosphere when Brazil played.”
Barrett thanked SA Rugby and the Western Province referees society for their support in her journey to become the first female South African referee to officiate at the Olympic Games.
“Everyone has been very supportive,” she said. “From SA Rugby to my home union, Western Province, everyone has had a big hand in getting me where I am today, and I am extremely grateful for that. I have received many opportunities and everyone has helped me grab them as best I can.”
Barrett is set to return to South Africa on Saturday after completing her duties at the sporting extravaganza, but she had advice for women back home with big rugby dreams.
“The key is to have a dream and to go for it,” said Barrett. “There will be a load of challenges along the way, especially being in a male-dominated sport, but anything is possible. One just has to be as resilient as you can and take on everything that you can, and when you get knocked down, you have to bounce back even stronger.”