Fresh back from the 2014 CAC Games women’s football tournament in Veracruz, Mexico, where she
continued to impress on and off the football pitch, GDF Sergeant, Maurees Skeete, is a star rising both at home in Guyana and within CONCACAF. The 2014 CAC games is her fourth international officiating appointment since being appointed a FIFA Referee on January 1, 2014. Yes! Maurees is currently the only Female FIFA Referee out of Guyana!
Sergeant Skeete, a former female footballer, hunkered down to pursue and deliver excellence, ever since she made the decision a few years ago, to switch from being a player to becoming a Referee.
The CAC tournament saw Maurees officiating as the Referee in the Group B, Dominican Republic (DR) vs Nicaragua and DR vs Costa Rica (CR) matches, and as the Fourth Official, in the Venezuela vs DR match and the third place play off between Venezuela and CR. “This was an exciting tournament that provided more opportunities for me to shine,” she said.
Her prior appointment was for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship 2014, her biggest stage yet. A World Cup Qualifying event for the teams involved, SGT Skeete officiated as the Fourth official in the Group A clash between Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala and refereed another Group A match between the USA and Guatemala. Also in this championship, she officiated as Fourth Official in the semi-final match between the USA and Mexico and the Finals between Costa Rica and the USA.
Speaking to her experiences during this championship, Skeete says that it was her most serious test yet as a young FIFA Referee. “At this level of competition, with star teams such as Mexico and the USA in play, the standard of women’s football is high, and, as a match official, one’s officiating standards must match the intensity of the matches,” she explains. “The pace of the matches and the professionalism with which the players and other officials approach the game, demands and drives you to perform. While it is possible for mistakes to be made, you can never, entertain such possibilities. Your mind and your focus must be sharp, and of course, your fitness level has to be excellent,” she stated.
“For this championship we travelled to four different states in the USA. The travelling was hectic but comfortable at all times. As a FIFA Referee you are provided with the best and are expected to deliver your best,” she added.
Already being touted as the next Dianne Ferreira-James, Guyana’s most accomplished and outstanding female FIFA Referee, SGT Skeete smiles and adopts a very humble disposition. “It is nice to be seen in such a light,” she says, “but, I am still in the infancy of my career as a FIFA Referee. I cannot hope yet, to reach the level of excellence of Ms James. I have a long way to go, many, many more matches to officiate and lots more experience to gain. It’s not going to be easy and I shall have to keep studying, learning and broadening my knowledge of the game, learning from others, and of course, ensuring that my level of fitness is always geared toward optimum performance,” she says. “Dianne has provided me with much support ever since we met up in the Cayman Islands for the CONCACAF Under-15 Girls tournament, my first international exposure as a FIFA Referee. She has become my mentor. On each of the international appointments I’ve had, Ms. James has been present and she teaches and guides me at every turn. Her advice and guidance are always solid.” Maurees has also officiated at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) 2014 Women’s Championship.
On the local scene, SGT Skeete last officiated at the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) Second Division Championship. She has also officiated in matches of the Guyana Football Federation’s (GFF) Premier League, Digicel School’s Football Championship and numerous other GFF and GFA tournaments.
Enlisting in 2004 Maurees has served the GDF and Guyana as a soldier for the past 10 years. She now holds the rank of Sergeant and is the IC of the GDF’s G5 Branch’s Materials Production Unit. She has successfully completed the Junior Leader and Drill Courses and also, a Diploma in Computer Science, at the Government Technical Institute. “I am a soldier first and foremost; and, despite my new role as a FIFA Referee, my military duties demand service to Guyana. I will have to strike a balance between my career as a soldier and my obligations to FIFA and football. Thankfully, I am receiving the necessary support from the GDF which allows for my sport development,” she said.
“The way I see it, the GDF and Guyana are benefitting from my service in both endeavours. Militarily, I strive to be a role model for young female soldiers and also to aid in grooming young male soldiers for whom I have responsibility from time to time. Additionally, because of my involvement in sports within the GDF, and now, because of my role as a FIFA referee, I serve as an inspiration to others within the GDF who are seeking opportunities for excellence.”
Chief of Staff Brigadier Phillips, lauded SGT Skeete’s achievements to date, and says that she will be encouraged to continue pursuing excellence in the military and in her endeavours in football. “I am proud to know that the Guyana Defence Force has produced a female soldier worthy of recognition in Guyana and across the Region. Sergeant Skeete is making waves in her football career as a FIFA Referee. She has also excelled as a soldier and I know that there are higher heights for her to conquer. I am proud of her and the entire Force is proud of her. We wish to see her continue to achieve and deliver excellence in both her military and football careers,” the GDF head stated. So, what’s next for this Rising Star? “Well, I have to focus on the development of my military career, since I aim to be elevated to the rank of Warrant Officer Class One, the highest rank attainable for an Other Rank in the GDF. In addition, I will continue to train, stay fit, and learn as much as I can to continue growing as a FIFA Referee. As a mother, I strive each day to ensure that my son understands that, he must never settle for less than the best. I wish to thank my parents, siblings, the Chief of Staff and all those who have supported and encouraged me to dream and pursue my dreams over the years. You all are invaluable to me.”
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