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After AFCON, Rwandan woman referee makes it to World Cup

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rwandan referee salima mukansanga
Salima Mukansanga form Rwanda. Photo by Sport Mob
  • Salima Mukansanga is the first woman referee at AFCON
  • She was selected by FIFA for Qatar World Cup
  • Mukasanga is ready to deliver once again

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon early on shed a spotlight on Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga. She is the first woman to officiate the men’s continental championship and will also be at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

She is optimistic about being chosen as the first woman to referee at the men’s World Cup in the event’s 92-year history. This spells great news for aspiring African women referees.

The Rwandese is happy that she is a trailblazer in the football world. Moreso, it elates her that her name tag will eventually open many other doors for women in the refereeing world.

With AFCON and now the world cup, she confidently says there are opportunities out there; all that remains is grabbing them.

This is big history for Africa.  Taking part in Qatar World Cup after the Cameroon tournament is a big step in Mukansanga’s meteoric journey to stardom. After participating in matches at both the Tokyo Olympics and the Women’s World Cup in France, The 34-year-old referee is looking forward to using the 92nd World Cup to demonstrate that there should be no hurdles for female referees in football.

Salima Mukansanga form Rwanda

Salima Mukansanga form Rwanda. Photo by Sport Mob

SALIMA MUKANSANGA BIOGRAPHY

The year 1988 saw the birth of Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga who grew up in Rusizi District, West Province. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and midwifery from the University of Gitwe, in Ruhango District, Rwanda’s South Province.

She loved sports, and her goal was to play basketball in college. Sadly, she lacked several necessities, such as basketball facilities; thus, it was never to be.

She shifted her attention to football. In her last year at St. Vincent de Paul Musanze Secondary School, she refereed in the championship game of a school competition. It was at this point that her career as a football referee began.

Her dream of becoming a referee and taking charge of the whole game became a reality. Nevertheless, it was not a smooth sail getting to where she is today. She was initially rejected by the Rwandan Football Association (RFA) because of her age.

She had just completed her secondary school studies and taught herself the fundamentals of officiating and the Laws of the Game.  Mukansanga was eventually given the opportunity to study with other new referees at the Rwandan Football Academy.

IS SALIMA MUKANSANGA MARRIED?

The zeal with which Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga officiates matches pokes interest in her private life. One of the popular questions people ask is if she’s married, which she is not.

She keeps her life so private that there is no iota of an image of her with her fiancée in public. There is no news of her engagement ever. So, it suffices to say she is single.

All she cares about is her work.  She says it is important for her to have support from other women. It helps prove that women can do anything and are always ready to win.

Mukansanga was among four female officials at AFCON in Cameroon. She worked together with Moroccans Bouchra Karboubi and Fatiha Jermoumi and Cameroonian Carine Atemzabong.

However, only Mukansanga was recognized as a major referee. Karboubi and Jermoumi were both assistant referees.

SALIMA MUKANSANGA WORLD CUP

Salima Mukansanga

Salima Mukansanga. Photo/ESPN

Just before AFCON 2022 kicked off in Cameroon kicked off, her ultimate dream was to make it to the world cup. Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga booked herself a slot at the Qatar World Cup.

Assisting referees Neuza Back from Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina from Mexico, and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States will be in Qatar with Mukansanga. They will also be joined by French referees Frappart and Yamashita.

She told BBC Sports that they will collaborate for the ultimate success of women. She is sure that success is definite when women support fellow women. Mukasanga is alive to the fact that there are obstacles, challenges, and barriers.

While there is nothing much to do about them, she will fight them to the best of her ability through commitment and engagement.

Given the focus on the biggest football event, Mukansanga is aware that she will be subject to more scrutiny. As such, she is aware that she cannot please everyone. What’s important is understanding and following the rules of the game.

Thus, as the 2022 Qatar World Cup starts on November 20 in the Arab country, Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga has the world stage to conquer. It is a dream come true after AFCON the same year.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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