Susana Maria Rodriguez Jativa of Spain, Patricia Rolf of United States, Joo-Hee Kang of Korea and Heike Kraft of Germany are among a crew of four women and 12 total refereeing at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Italy 2014
Milan, Italy, October 8, 2014 – Elite women athletes will not be the only individuals under the spotlight of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 Final Round in Milan. A record four women have been selected to handle referee duties during the 10 matches in Milan featuring the top six teams from October 8 to 12 and will be joining eight other referee male colleagues to call the action on the court.
Joo-Hee Kang of Korea, Heike Kraft of Germany, Susana Maria Rodriguez Jativa of Spain and Patricia Rolf of United States are among the world’s best referees and earned the right to continue blowing the whistle during the most prestigious stage of this World Championship.
“To be back in a competition like this top level is an honor because it is really hard to get,” Rodriguez Jativa said. “So it is a great experience of being with the top teams and referees of the world and to continue learning and improving in every game, because there must be a continuous learning.”
The foursome have a combined 41 years of experience as international referees. Rodriguez Jativa, a bank employee in her native country, has been an international referee since her nomination in 2002. Rolf, who has served as a volleyball coach and teacher at various universities, has been an international referee since 2003. Kang, a university teacher, and Kraft, a bank management clerk, both earned nominations in 2005.
“After I noticed the nomination for this prestigious event I was very happy to be 'one of the referees,’” Kraft said. “At this time all of us didn’t know that there are finally five female referees. But this is not important because I like to be 'one of the referees' and have a good relationship with all of my colleagues and of course the referee-commission. I’m looking forward for a great show and fantastic matches in our sport Volleyball here in Milano.”
Rolf, who played as well as coached volleyball in the United States, feels it is an honor to continue to be a part of the game in such an elite level.
“It is such an incredible honor to be even working in the international game of volleyball and to be here at the World Championship Final is a gift,” Rolf said. “As a young person who loved to play the game of volleyball, to coach, to referee. To be able to continue with my passion and work at the highest level of this game with such incredible colleagues is a dream for me. Not only working with the most amazing female referees in the world and to be watching our numbers grow, but the support we are receiving from our male peers is fantastic. I believe the game is better for all us representing the community of volleyball.”
This World Championship also had a fifth female international referee, Cuba’s Lourdes Perez, who participated in the first round. A total of 26 international referees were appointed to work the first round.
"It is a big responsibility and a requirement to be at such high level,” Rodriguez Jativa said. “In this competition we have participated five women referees and in the finals are four. We are part of refereeing collective, without distinction of sex, and that's what matters to me. I think we're here for our quality and not because we are women. The relationship between all is fantastic and we really support each other."
“The FIVB has helped find women referees and now here are four women with 8 male referees for a 33 percent position in this competition,” Joo-Hee said. “That is good news for women referees. We are here for the finals, want to nominate matches and do a good job, have fun, enjoy the competition with colleagues.”
At the end of the day, Joo-Hee believes there should be no distinction between the genders on the referee stand.
“I do not like to separate the gender for the referees - we are just the referees,” Joo-Hee said.
Rodriguez Jativa puts the roles of the referees in a different light, remembering that the focus is not on them.
"We are part of the show and we try to do our best but being in background - the main actresses are the players and not us,” Rodriguez Jativa said.
Kang transitioned from being a national team player for Korea into an elite international referee and completed her international referees candidate course in 2002. She has been on the referee stand for FIVB World Grand Prix matches since 2006 with final round appointments each year since 2001. She been assigned as the top of referees of the Korean Professional League (KOVO) since 2008. Kang served as referee at the World Championship Qualification in 2009 and 2013, as well as at the 2009 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship as the first referee for the semifinal and final matches. She was also part of the referee crew at the 2011 FIVB World Cup and 2013 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup.
Kraft, Germany’s first female international referee, has officiated at the World Grand Prix since 2007 every year. Her other assignments have included the Women's World Olympic Qualification Tournament 2012 in Tokyo and assignments for 2 World Club World Championship in Doha (2011 and 2012). In addition of the FIVB tournaments she has conducted nearly 200 international matches in continental events like European Cups, Champions League and European Championship.
About Rodriguez Jativa
Rodriguez Jativa, who at age 37 refereed in her first Olympic Games in London including the bronze medal match, was the first woman referee at the top level in Spain at only 22 years old. Her performance is of high quality at the national level as well as at international level. She has earned appointments for FIVB (World Grand Prix, World League, World Championships, World Cup, etc.) and CEV (European Championships, Champions League, etc.) competitions.
Rolf, who has been a USA Volleyball registered national referee since 1990 and is a member of the United States’ Professional Association of Volleyball Officials Hall of Fame, first gained international officiating exposure at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta as a line judge. Since then, she has worked FIVB World Cups, the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship, 2007 Pan American Games, Pan American Cups, the 2004 Boris Yeltsin Cup - where she met Yeltsin, and was a reserve for the FIVB World League.