Women empowerment! Indian Women referees created history at the 17th Incheon Asian Games 2014 when Maria Rebello Piedade and Uvena Fernandes officiated the Women’s semifinal match between FIFA Women’s World Champions Japan and Vietnam in Incheon on Monday.
In fact, this is the first-ever instance when any Indian referee has officiated in a match featuring a current World Champion side. While Maria was in charge in the middle, Uvena was on service as an Assistant Referee.
“It’s not every day that you get to officiate in a match involving the World Champions,” the duo unanimously told AIFF Media from Incheon.
For the record, both Maria and Uvena, each Officiated in three matches in Incheon.
The morning after, the girls giggle when AIFF Media catches up with them. “This is the biggest sporting event in Asia. To be able to be a part of it is simple amazing,” Maria quips.
Uvena adds: “The experience in Incheon was very exceptional. It has been simply great. There was so much to learn and gain from the championships for the future.”
“The Women’s semifinal has been my biggest match so far. Nothing can beat this. After all, this was my first AFC assignment. The atmosphere in Incheon is different as it brought together all athletes from all disciplines.”
Apart from the two girls, Magho Singh and Arumughan Rowan also officiated in Incheon.
In a country where not every Woman prefer to play the sport, getting acceptance as a Woman referee isn’t easy.
“There are a lot of young girls who are slowly taking up refereeing. The encouragement from AIFF has been outstanding in this regard. The face of Indian refereeing is changing and at a fast pace,” Maria states.
Gautam Kar, Head of Referees, AIFF, lauds the girls. “To be selected to supervise the Women’s semifinal match between Japan and Vietnam, one needs to be the best. And we had two Women referees in the middle. It just can’t get better for Indian referees,” he opines. “Not to forget that both Officiated in three matches each.”
Maria, who was the first-ever Woman referee in the world to ever supervise a first division match of any country, feels she is a “much confident” referee now.
“I will be proceeding to the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam in November,” she informs. “But this was such a different experience. It was such exciting and there was so scope to educate yourself keeping an eye for the future.”
The Indian Women referees has started to invade the male bastion. And mind you, they are not just equal; at times, they are better.
(Report courtesy AIFF Media)