TWO soccer-mad students hope to rub shoulders with their sporting idols in the Premier League after qualifying as professional football refs.

Year ten Clacton County High School students Hermione Wood and Elise Purser qualified as junior FA referees almost two years ago.

The girls were then spotted by Essex Football Association scouts while refereeing at a primary schools football festival and recommended for the full qualification.

The duo previously played for FC Clacton’s under 15s girls team. The squad folded due to a lack of girls taking part, although Hermione and Elise still play for their school team.

Thanks to funding from FC Clacton, the pair completed a gruelling four-day adult course at Essex University.

They are now qualified to referee at adult county level matches – and hope to go on to the upper echelons of the footballing world – although they have been advised by the FA only to referee age groups up to two years older than themselves.

Hermione, 15, from Clacton said: “I’m a footballer and I really like Tottenham’s Dele Alli.

“I wanted to find out more about being a referee in the hope of meeting him. It was something different and a bit of a challenge.

“We also want to be role models for other girls our age and younger to do something good.”

The girls completed the course alongside mostly men, “At the start of the course we were a bit nervous and it was a little bit hard,” said Hermione.

“But we got a lot of help from the men on the course, although there were two other women there too.

“I have hopes of one day going on to referee in the Premier League so I can meet my idols.”

Elise, 14, also from Clacton, added: “I thought learning to referee would be something good to do.

“It has really helped me to understand the game of football.”

School PE teacher Laura Townsend spent hours of her own time helping the girls study for the qualification.

A school spokesman said: “Having passed with flying colours the girls have officiated, as trainee referees, for numerous matches both for the school and for FC Clacton.”