Tokyo, Japan, November 13, 2010 – In a country with a population close to 50 million, Susana Rodriguez of Spain not only stands alone among her compatriots as the only female referee with an FIVB international licence but at the same time she also distinguishes herself for being both young and a veteran at the same time.
Spaniard Susana Rodriguez is taking part in her first FIVB World Championship
With seven consecutive years participating in the FIVB World Grand Prix, and a regular refereeing role in the FIVB World League since 2007, the 36-year-old Rodriguez is officiating for the first time at an FIVB Women's World Championship, junior-level competitions included.
“This is my first ever World Championship and I am really proud about being here as one of the three women officiating in the event," said Rodriguez, who started her refereeing career at 22 and got her international accreditation in 2002. "I have been participating in the FIVB World Grand Prix for seven consecutive years starting in 2004 and also in the FIVB World League since 2007," she added.
One of three women whistling in the Spanish Super League, Rodriguez perceives the low percentage of female referees at both national and international level as a matter of tradition but also can see a trend toward evolution. "I have to thank Patty Salvatore, Zorica Bjelic and Karin Zahorcova who opened the way for us," Rodriguez said. "But I would like to see the development of women referees and increase in number only as another chance to show our capabilities and qualities."
She made reference to a seminar held this year by the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) where the reasons for the lack of female referees were discussed and the conclusion reached that this was a consequence of long-time habits and traditions.
"I don't think we have to promote female referees only because of their condition as women but for what they can demonstrate on the court," explained Rodriguez, who oversees more men's than women's matches in the Spanish league. "It is important to support the women but at the end the important thing is what you are able or not able to do."
Married to Jose Luis Arrarte, also an international Volleyball referee, and the daughter of a basketball official, Rodriguez played for two years before taking the decision to pursue a career as a referee. "I think it was in my genes being the daughter of a referee, but I took the decision when I entered the University of Castilla La Mancha to study Business Administration," she recalled. "I started participating in a course for scorers and it was like a love at first sight."
Rodriguez feels fortunate that her second career, when not working as a bank employee, has allowed her to travel around the world and meet different people and experience different cultures. "I really owe a lot to Volleyball because during all these years I have had a unique chance to develop friendships, visit many countries and meet some great people."
As for her most memorable match, she is quick to select the final match of the 2009 Women's European League between Italy and Netherlands. "Zorica was the first referee and I was the second," she recalled. "It was the first and only time that two women have whistled the decisive match in the history of the league."