The Cal South Referee Spotlight is a feature, highlighting elite officials through the Cal South system

When talking about Brazil, the first thing that comes to mind is soccer, or futebol, as it is called in Portuguese. Soccer is the country’s national pastime, the sport that the majority of the country lives and breathes on a daily basis with pride and passion. And that was no different for native Karen Callado.

Growing up in Brazil, Callado was always around a soccer ball, whether it was to go watch her dad play soccer, to go see their favorite team at the stadium, or during her soccer practices and games. Callado began playing soccer at seven years of age, at first, playing with only boys due to lack of organized girls soccer, and then going to the professional ranks at 15, playing for a total of nine years, including Division 1 soccer at Uni Sant’Anna in Sao Paulo.

While in college, like many students, Callado needed to find a job to help pay her tuition, books and uniforms. Her coach at Portuguesa suggested refereeing, and the rest is history.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in 2014, Callado left her native Brazil and moved to Los Angeles. As her professional career progressed, she saw herself missing the game, and wanted to continue being involved in soccer and to not lose her physical fitness. After considering and weighing her long-term options as a player and as a referee, Callado decided to dedicate herself to pursuing a referee career, earning her Grade 8 Credential with Cal South.

In 2015, Callado began to explore her options, speaking with local Referee Associations like South Bay Soccer Referee Association (SBSRA) and Southern California Elite Soccer Referee Association (SCESRA) in an effort to try and get exposure and experience and always aiming to become a FIFA Official.

Since then, Callado has continued working hard, dedicating herself to a job she loves in the sport she loves, earning various opportunities that would take her to officiate at the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships and National Championship Finals, US Soccer Development Academy Championships.

“Cal South was one of the main supports to start my career as a referee here in the United States,” Callado said. “I can say that I always feel at home, where I have always been welcomed in this incredible atmosphere of Southern California soccer.

“Cal South has always worked hard for the development of referees and it was through all the meetings, RPD (Referee Development Program), coaches, assessments, instructors and all the Cal South Staff together with my dedication and discipline that I was able to participate in Cal South’s State Cup and National Cup. I was selected to participate not just locally, but regionally, and in national stages to representing Cal South in the finals,” she added.

As Callado kept working hard and dedicating herself to her career as a Referee, the doors to more opportunities continued to open, allowing her the opportunity to begin officiating with the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) at the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and United Soccer League One (USL), as well as a U.S vs. Brazil game at the 2019 Nike U20 International Friendlies, a match close to her heart.

Earlier this year, Callado earned her US Soccer National Badge, a pinnacle moment in her Referee career, an objective that took years of games, training, assessments, sweat and tears to earn.

“It is very gratifying and to feel that every sacrifice is worthwhile when you dedicate yourself and believe. It’s knowing that one cycle ends, and another begins; preparing, dedicating and keeping solid to be prepared for the next challenge; never losing focus on the main goal to be a FIFA Referee,” Callado finalized.

To learn more about the Cal South Referee Program, click here.