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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

FEMALE REFEREES HOPING TO CLIMB THE LADDER

Date:

MONROVIA – Female referees, who attended a 2023 FIFA member association intermediate course, are hoping to climb the ladder of refereeing.

Montserrado’s Grace Wuo, Annie Carr of Margibi, Felecia Kuieh of River Cess and Lofa’s Philemon Kollie were among 30 participants from 14 counties (excluding Grand Kru) that attended the course at Golden Key Hotel with practical at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex in Paynesville from 11-14 March.

Grace has been a referee for three years, having attended a Liberia Football Association (LFA) beginner female referee course at the George Weah technical center in Careysburg in 2020.

“I am happy to be here. It is an honor to have been selected among many referees and to be competing with the men. My dream is to climb the ladder slowly and patiently wait for my time.

“Nothing is impossible with God above and dedication, passion and commitment below and within,” she said.

Annie, like Grace, was also in Careysburg for the course and believes the training was necessary.

“I normally go for trainings at the ATS [Antoinette Tubman Stadium] on Saturdays where we do fitness and them one of the local instructors will speak to us about games we officiated or some discussions about referees.

“This course was in the right direction by improving on what we learned from 2020. I watch television and read about big women’s referees and want to be like them or more than them,” she laughed.

Felecia did her beginner course in Kakata, Margibi County in 2021 but has competing challenges.

“I feel good to be here from River Cess but you know women have issues that need to be addressed. We shouldn’t be treated like men because we have plenty roles to play,” she stressed but shied away from elaborating.

Philemon, who can play as a referee and an assistant referee, is the newest on the bloc, having undergone a beginner course in Voinjama, Lofa County in September 2022.

And she is patiently waiting to pounce on an opportunity to make a name for herself.

“I am officiating in the third division league in Lofa. My goal is to play in the county meet and the national league and then start thinking about international games,” she hopes.

One person, who has volunteered to mentor the quartet, is LFA third Vice President Jodie Reid-Seton.

Jodie wants the LFA to take an affirmative and deliberate action to encourage more women in football.

She said some policies need to be implemented to support courageous women in football and motivate those looking for opportunities.

“I will give my numbers to all of you after this program. You can call upon me anytime you need my help. I am also on social media. Reach out to me and let’s talk about the challenges and problems that will affect your career,” she said.

Jodie, who formally declared the course ended, gave a standing ovation to the women.

“All the women in the house please stand-up. Clap for yourself. Thank you for helping to break the barriers. I will encourage the executive committee for us to have an exclusive referee course for women.

“I know we did it in 2020 but we need to take an affirmative and deliberate action to do it again for women. That’s how we will encourage more women in football,” said Jodie.

Jodie is also executive director of the Liberia Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), a non-governmental organization that mainly promotes women’s issues and helps them to break the barriers in all professions.

“I am the third vice president today. I didn’t just get here by mistake. I contested with the men. I went to school. There were times I wanted to give-up but held on.

“You got to be passionate about what you want to do and be committed to it. FIFA and LFA will fund all the trainings and seminars for you. You got to play your part to live-up to be the professionals we want you to be. I want to thank FIFA and all your instructors, who spent valuable time impacting knowledge,” she added.

The course was facilitated by FIFA/CAF referee instructor Felix Tangawarima of Zimbabwe.

Felix was assisted by former LFA Class ‘A’ referee Famatta Duncan, who is a referee assessor and physical fitness instructor, as technical instructors while Jay Exodus Flanjay was the physical instructor.

The participants did medicals on 10 March and fitness tests on 11 March.

They were refreshed on fitness test (gate concept) and tactical fouls/challenges, offside, positioning and handball situations.

The sky will be the limits for Grace, Annie, Felecia and Philemon as they seek to join compatriots Sylvina Garnett (referee) and assistant referees Tracy Chayee and Hannah Moses, who hold FIFA badges.

They will hope to also emulate Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga, who became the first woman to officiate at an Africa Cup of Nations final when Zimbabwe defeated Guinea 2-1 in Cameroon.

Salima walked onto the pitch holding the match ball accompanied by three male match officials at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé on 18 January 2022.

And Salima also became the first female African to officiate at a men’s top football event on 22 November 2022 by serving as fourth official when France defeated Australia 4-1 at Qatar’s World Cup finals. LFA

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