The World’s First Female Professional Squash Referee: Andrea Santamaria #WomensSquashWeek #YouBelong

Women’s Squash Week (18-24th September) is an international campaign that aims to celebrate and raise the profile of female squash.   

PSA Foundation are proud to champion this key awareness week, and a core part of our work is empowering women and girls to participate in squash.   

This years theme is #YouBelong: highlighting how women and girls belong in all aspects of the game. 

To highlight #YouBelong in Refereeing, we spoke with Andrea Santamaria: the first ever professional female referee in squash, about her experiences getting into officiating and how we can encourage more women to take up this role in squash. 


“I’m originally from Barnsley and started playing squash at a squash club called Shaw Lane. and then in my early teens 

I moved to Spain and lived there for 21 years, been back in the UK in Pontefract since 2009 

When playing squash at club level, Masters you are required to referee matches, so it was just a natural process for me to be refereeing.  

Then a guy called Mark Shipley, who was involved in England Squash approached me and said they needed female referees as the balance is really disproportionate and would I be interested in doing a referee course 

One was held at Pontefract, which I attended and I really enjoyed it, Then from there I just got involved with England Squash doing junior tournaments, Masters and then progressed onto doing PSA events. 

I’m passionate and a big, big fan of squash, so the favorite bit is trying to separate the two and whilst I’m here to do a job, a demanding job, I enjoy the spectacle as well. 


It can be very enjoyable, but it can also be really stressful. You’re under the critical eye of the players, of the spectators, commentators having to make those decisions and process difficult rules in quick, real time can be really stressful, but it’s something that I enjoy. 


There aren’t many women referees and so it is predominantly male, which some people I suppose could find quite daunting. I prefer to see us as human beings and not male or female: but I fully appreciate that there is a big difference. 

My experience is that maybe culturally you might be treated differently being a female, I try not to think too much into that and think more of it being just the fact that I’m new, a new face on the block. 


It’s amazing to think from starting refereeing in 2015, refereeing local league matches and then sometimes I do have to pinch myself. I sit there in front of the pyramids, in front of the Eiffel Tower, thinking, how did I get here? 


I think national federations need to and WSO in squash somehow we need to identify select, develop and then retain because the hard thing is retaining these people [referees]. 

Once you have them in the group is to retain them, we’ve got to try and make it as interesting and appetizing as we can. 


I would say that it’s great fun, if you’re interested in squash, passionate about squash, leaving squash as a player, but wanting to stay involved, it’s a fantastic opportunity now more than ever.” 


Learn more about Women’s Squash Week