Delfina Dimoski will continue to push for the cultural change in Canberra's soccer scene, after an "overwhelmingly positive" response to a new RESPECT campaign.
Referees have been leaving the game in droves, with up to 40 per cent stepping away each year predominantly due to abuse. The shortages were brought to light in May when Dimoski shared her story of having to referee four ACT NPL matches across 24 hours, instead of the usual two.
Capital Football started a RESPECT campaign to reduce abuse across the code, following Dimoski's story.
She said there had been an overwhelmingly positive response to it, after the initial shock of hearing the abuse referees, spectators, coaches and players received.
"Everyone needs to buy in, from the grassroots up," she said.
"No matter what your role is you shouldn't feel like someone's going to yell at you or abuse you, whether you're playing, your spectating or you're refereeing ... and it's empowering people to feel if you see something bad and you're not okay with it, call it out. That's what we're trying to get to.
"I think people are now at the point where they're realising that this will have a detrimental impact if there isn't change."
The 29-year-old is the ACT recipient of the inaugural Women Sport Australia Shona Joy scholarship. It includes a mentoring program and networking events to encourage career development opportunities for women working in sport.
Pairing with a mentor and other likeminded women in sport was something Dimoski was looking forward to in order to further the change in Canberra's soccer scene.
"Being a woman in sport, you're a minority so it's kind of nice to be able to speak to like minded people that have been in similar positions to you starting out and trying to find your way," she said.
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She hopes to use her scholarship to increase representation of women in sport, and for her that lies in refereeing and soccer.
As one of two NPL female centre referees, it includes increasing that number to give the next generation more opportunities.
"You can't be what you can't see and I think for a lot of these young girls, seeing women such as myself and the others in the NPL, it gives them something to aspire to," Dimoski said.
"I want to leave the game in a better place than when I started and I think we are taking those steps to change perception around female match officials. I want to get to a point where in Canberra they don't look at, 'oh look it's a female ref', it will just be 'oh look, we've got a competent referee'."