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Maria Rebello officiates her first I-League match

Maria Rebello

Maria Rebello

Officiating in her first ever I-League match and becoming the first woman referee to do so in the process, Maria Rebello could not have asked for a better script on International Women’s Day. It was a Round 20 encounter between Pune FC and Shillong Lajong FC at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune yesterday evening.

The match ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Pune FC’s new signing Australian Mirjan Pavlovic netting in a 90th minute equaliser to salvage a point for the second-placed side after a brace from Lajong’s Ulliams saw Pune’s Gabriel Fernandes’ first half strike getting cancelled out.

Speaking to AIFF Media moments after the she blew the final whistle, Rebello sounded ecstatic.

“This was the day I was looking forward to. It’s like a dream come true. I would like to thank AIFF and the entire Referees Committee for believing in me. It couldn’t have been a better Women’s Day gift for me,” Rebello said.

“For a woman referee to officiate at the highest level of club football in the country is incredible and today I am really proud of the hard work I have put in all these years to reach here,” she added.

“It was a good match too. There were goals and drama. Stoppages in play were also very little which is great. I am very satisfied with the way things transpired on my debut,” the former India Women’s captain further added.

Maria has gone from strength to strength since being named to officiate in the I-League last year in June.

She went to Liaoning to officiate in the Women’s Football Final of the Chinese National Games between Jiangsu Province and Shanghai last year in September. The Goan was also the referee in some of the key matches of the Goa Pro League. She has been the fourth official in two matches prior to this match in this season.

Maria is also among the AFC Panel of Elite Referees and has also officiated in the Santosh Trophy.

Wishing luck to both the finalists of the ongoing National Championship for the Santosh Trophy, Rebello said, “I wish both the teams all the best for the Final of the Santosh Trophy. I have lot of good memories of the tournament and have learnt a lot.”

Railways play Mizoram in the 68th Santosh Tropyh final on Sunday evening.

<font size=”1″>(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)</font>