Salima Mukansanga first female referee of AFCON game. On Tuesday January 18th 2022 she’ll officiate Zimbabwe and Guinea at the African Cup of Nations. She’ll lead a team with female assistants Carine Atemzabong (Cameroon) and Fatiha Jermoumi (Morocco) as well as VAR referee Bouchra Karboubi (Morocco)
Salima Mukansanga was already 4th official in the AFCON 2022 game between Guinea and Malawi, making her the first female match official in this tournament. Eddy Maillet, CAF Director of Refereeing, made a statement before the tournament. “All match officials were selected based on their experience, skills and current form.” The former top referee from the Seychelles praised all referees that were selected. “In recent months, they have been subjected to several aptitude tests through preparation courses and real competitive matches. Only the best will officiate at this extraordinary event.”
A great opportunity for women
“We’ll show the world we can do something,” the Rwandan referee told ESPN before the tournament. She says the Laws of the Game are the same, she’s worked with the video referee before at the Olympics and the Women’s World Cup in 2019. “We can show that we can referee a man’s game at a tough level… and succeed. It’s a great opportunity for me and for other women.”
A big lesson for every referee, man or woman: trust that you can succeed if you work hard for it.
Overcome obstacles and strive for your dreams
“We are super proud of Salima because she has had to work exceptionally hard to be where she is today.” That’s what CAF referee boss Eddy Maillet says after the historical appointment. “We know that for a woman, she has had to overcome serious obstacles to reach this level and she deserves a lot of credit. This moment is not just for Salima but for every young girl in Africa who has passion for football and who sees herself as a referee in the future. “
Always show the best of yourself
Salima Mukansanga doesn’t use VAR in her own country, but she gains experience during international tournamens like the World Cups. Plus these new tournaments give her also a chance to show how good you are. “The Olympics were a challenge, but they helped me be seen”, she says to ESPN. “They gave me an image where everyone recognised me, and people think: ‘this lady can do something, this lady is ready’.”
A lesson that applies to all of our games. Use every opportunity to shine, to show the best you can be. And not only at the big stage where everyone can see you, but everywhere. Psychologist Gerry Duffy once gave me the advice to get uncomfortable sometimes, then you’ll grow. And he added that you might not always like your appointment, but show your best as you might be watched and your qualities might be recognized. “Small keys sometimes open big doors.” (link to full interview with Gerry Duffy)
Salima Mukansanga: become well-prepared
The Rwandese referee knows she needs to be at a top level to perform well, because it’s a demanding game and tournament. Besides knowledge of the Laws of the Game and its application and interpretation, there’s a lot she can do. That all comes with a great preparation. “The most important thing is to be ready for the demands of the game”, she says. “Working hard of course with my fellow referees. Together with appropriate teamwork and communication skills, we will succeed together.” Read full article at ESPN.
Learn from your colleagues
Another lesson for us all: enjoy the game, but also try learn by watching others. Salima Mukansanga shares a great anecdote from when she was still in school, where she played. But she also watched a lot of football. “I liked to watch the one who was on the field of play who was taking decisions, leading players, talking to the players”. She liked the “one who people are respecting on the field of play. That person interested me.”
Lesson for us all: inspire yourself by other match officials and learn from them.
What I want you to do as well: share which referees you are watching and learning from. You can email to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this blog post with UEFA Super Cup referee Sergei Karasev.