THERE is no shortage of abuse that comes with being a referee.

You only have to go down to parks pitches any weekend to those in charge of local games getting stick from players and the sidelines.

But players and coaches who cross the line in their verbal treatment of officials are unlikely to intimidate 16-year-old Ella Sands.

For, as well as being the girl in black on parks pitches on a Saturday morning the Horwich teenager is also a British taekwondo champion.

Ella, who goes to St John Rigby College in Wigan, took up both activities at school and has gone from strength to strength in her chosen martial art.

She has been to Poland twice recently, competing in the Polish Taekwondo Open and representing Great Britain in the European Under-21 Taekwondo Championships.

When back home her sporting activity leads her to the football pitch where she takes control of boys' under-14s and u16s matches.

She said: “I love football and I’ve always wanted to get involved.

"I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh’s award and I found out it passed as a skill, so I just went for it.

“With taekwondo my PE teacher ran classes at school, and I began attending and have just been doing it and enjoying it ever since.”

And with enjoyment has come significant success with national titles and international competition.

“I've just won gold to become British national champion in Sheffield competing in a new weight category,” she said.

“I won bronze in the Belgium Open earlier in the year and silver in Paris at the end of 2017.

“It can definitely be hard keeping up with sport and studies though.

"With refereeing, it’s about committing my weekends so whenever I have some free time I try to do as many games as I can... usually about three games a weekend.

“I do taekwondo when I have free time and I have to balance and manage them all and not get too distracted by any of them.”