IN Solomon Islands women’s soccer has continuously grown and perhaps still developing, however women continue to be under represented in non-playing roles – particularly as referees or assistant referees.
This reality explores the experiences of women who continue to referee despite their under-representation within the refereeing domain, in an effort to identify the benefits and challenges of being a woman soccer referee in Honiara.
Solomon Women Sports managed to interview a local certified assistant referee, Shama Mammae on how she immerged to become a female referee in the domestic football competitions in Honiara.
“I have been dreamt to become a referee since I was a little girl. Many times I spend my time watching football matches and I always admire referees who participated in the matches.
“As a little girl – am always flooded with many questions as to why there aren’t any female referees officiating in any football matches and from that curiosity it steered my interest to one day become a referee.
Ms Mammae is ethnically from the northern region of Malaita province and has engaged in her career as an assistant referee in 2014. At the moment she is among one of the top female referees in the country to have gained FIFA/OFC accreditation onto the international scene.
“I was still in high school, when I received my referee certification after undergone intensive referee courses in Honiara,” she mentioned.
Shama is one of the upcoming and now experienced assistant referees in the country. She took part as the 2nd assistant referee at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U-16 Women’s Championship 2017 grand-final match between New Zealand and New Caledonia at the J.S. Blatter Football Complex in Samoa.
That was her international debut outside of the domestic league competitions in Honiara. She was able to experience regional youth players in action at the OFC regional tournament.
“Being able to travel abroad and officiate in the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2017 in Apia, Samoa was one of my major highlights in my referee career.
“It was a great experience to be able to meet and interact with experience and professional referees from different parts of the world. It is rather interesting to meet sports men and women that have similar passion and aspiration in refereeing,” she added.
The assistant referees role is fundamentally important in a football match. It is their duty to assist and advise the referee from the touchline, with a particular focus on specific aspects of the game. They decide when the ball has gone out of play. They must always look directly along both the touchline and goal line, something that the referee is normally unable to do. When the whole of the ball has left the field, the linesman raises the flag to signal the need for a throw-in, goal kick or corner kick.
The female assistant referee urged aspiring referees in the country, who wish to follow the same direction she and other local OFC/FIFA-accreditation referees or match officials have made onto the international scene to join or register their names at the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) office if basic football referee courses are available in the future.
“I would like to encourage more females out there to come and join the team of local referees in the country.
“We need more females to train and register their affiliation as certified referees in the future. We need to see more females gain access to referee courses in order to deliver the best performances in future football competitions in the country,” she told Solomon Women Sports.
There is a slight increase in the number of women that choose to take on refereeing as their career path; it has now boosted their popularity as women soccer referees within the local refereeing domain.
Ms Mammae has currently gained popularity among the football community in Honiara. Being proud with her profession as an assistant referee, she has remained a dominant figure in the country’s top domestic and high school football league of competitions.