A UCFB coaching student is raising money for multiple organisations across Europe after requiring surgery following an incident while refereeing a match in Norway.

Ella Squires, a First Year BA (Hons) Sports Business and Coaching student, is a qualified football referee operating in the fifth tier of women’s football and in the Women’s National League as an assistant referee.

Last summer, Ella was given the opportunity to travel to Oslo and referee at the Norway Cup, the world’s largest youth football tournament.

Ella said: “It was my first time at the tournament and an opportunity to further grow and develop into a better referee.

“I was having an amazing experience and a successful tournament, and was already being considered for a cup final in my first year.”

However, on day five of the tournament, she was hit by a stray ball and ruptured her spleen. She needed life-saving surgery and was cared for in Norway by the Children’s Intensive Care Unit (Barneintensiv Ullevål) of Oslo Universitetssykehus.

UCFB student Ella while refereeing

Ella said about the incident: “I have been very fortunate in my situation. If we had left it a few more hours to seek more medical advice, or if I had tried to sleep off the injury (as first advised) it would have been fatal and I wouldn’t have come home to my family and friends.”

Click here to visit Ella’s JustGiving page and read the full story about her journey so far.

Now, Ella’s father Paul, referee coach Dean and Bedfordshire referee development officers Isaac and Dan are embarking on a journey to help raise funds this summer.

They will be taking on a cycle ride from the O2 Arena in London to Oslo University Hospital across two weeks, travelling 1800km and eight countries.

Money raised will be for the Children’s Intensive Care Unit of Oslo Universitetssykehus, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Bedfordshire Referee Association, who have supported Ella since the incident.

Ella said: “The donations will ensure more babies and children on the ICU in Oslo and at Great Ormond Street go home safely to their parents, and to help young boys and girls get everything they want from refereeing. 

“This experience has been emotionally exhausting, scary and probably the hardest thing I have ever faced in my 19 years.

“I am pleased to say that I have started refereeing again and have come back stronger than ever, however my recovery is still on going.”

To read more about the journey, click here. You can also follow the cycle ride on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.