A YOUNG rugby player from Selkirk is aiming to go as far as she can in the game as a referee after a shattering ankle break ended her playing career in 2011 while playing for Melrose Women, writes Jack Nixon.

Kelly Mitchell has put the devastating injury behind her and is making her way as a referee.

The 27-year-old has already been in charge of a National League 3 game in Aberdeen where she won the plaudits of Gordonians president Jim Sugden.

He said:'''Kelly is probably the best referee we have had up here.

"She was firmly in control of our game against Haddington. She will go far in the game.''

Kelly, who was born in Hawick, is from a long line of players in the Mitchell family, including her grandfather Frank who had the distinction of captaining Melrose, leading them to a famous sevens triumph at the Greenyards in his time at the club.

A feat that Kelly, when only 17, replicated when captain of Melrose Women in 2008.

Her father Derek also played for Melrose after a few seasons at Peebles.

Kelly launched her own career as a five year old at Trinity Primary, becoming the first girl to play rugby at the Hawick school, before going on to play for Hawick High School, and then on to Melrose.

She then completed her education, studying at Edinburgh University, gaining a BA in chemistry, during which time she played for Murrayfield Wanderers.

On her return she resumed playing for Melrose, until breaking her ankle in three places.

During her rehabilitation Kelly turned her attention to refereeing, and inspired by her friend Hollie Davidson of Deeside who became the first ever contracted woman to be appointed by the Scottish Rugby Union, soon gained recognition in the local game. Not that her father Derek was happy about his daughter being in charge of men's games, fearing she would be a victim of the critical responses of spectators, and possibly players.

According to Kelly, he need not have worried. She said:''I have been pleasantly surprised by the support I have been given by clubs, including my own one in Selkirk, supporters and players.

"The only problem players have is in knowing how to address me on the field.

"Some call me sir, and some maam. I don't really care as long as its not derogatory.

"Looking to the future, I want to go as far is as is possible. I have already achieved my target for the season of being in charge of a National League 3 game.

"One day a woman will officiate in the final of the World Cup.

"Joy Neville of Ireland has already broken through and reffed a professional club fixture. In the meantime I'm off to Langholm to do their game with Trinity Accies.''

The Scottish Borders Council employee is still active in the women's game, coaching Kelso during the week.

She added: ''It keeps me in touch with the women's game."