For Monika Mularczyk, life at the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship has taken on a sense of deja vu. Having overseen the Group A opener between England and France back on 19 August, the Polish referee is preparing to handle Saturday's title decider between the cross-channel rivals.
"I'm feeling happy, excited, proud – a bit of everything to be honest," Mularczyk told UEFA.com. "The first match I refereed at this tournament was the group game between England and France, which was 0-0, and I expect this one to be very even too. Both teams are at a similar level so I'm expecting a very good match."
Her assistants for the final, which kicks off at 16.00CET (15.00 local time) at Llanelli's Parc y Scarlets, are Svetlana Bilić of Serbia and Armenian official Araksya Saribekyan. "Wales is a beautiful country, I'm very proud to be part of the UEFA team here at this tournament," said Bilić. "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Football Association of Wales – everything has been perfectly organised and I'm really pleased with the help and support we've had."
Saribekyan, for her part, chose to highlight the spirit in which this competition has been played. "In every game, from the referees, players and the officials, I've seen nothing but fair play," she said. "I think that the meetings [UEFA Referees Committee member] Bo [Karlsson] had with the teams before the competition definitely helped this happen."
Performing fourth official duties at the showpiece fixture will be Eleni Lampadariou, who underlined the invaluable time spent in the camp by three up-and-coming Welsh referees – Charlotte Carpenter, Rebecca Thomas and Ceri Louise Williams. "It was a useful experience for them and for us," said the Greek. "We all learn from each other here, it's very good for us and for our future.
Staying on the learning theme, does Mularczyk have any advice for aspiring officials wishing to follow in her and her team's footsteps? "You need to believe that, if you really want something, you can make it happen. But also don't think your life only has to be about refereeing. I'm a good example of that – I have a family, I have a child. Finding a balance isn't always easy, but it is possible."
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