GRASSROOT FEMALE REFEREE DETERMINED TO MAKE IT BIG IN FOOTBALL
For Caroline Akinyi, the dream to become one of the renowned female referees in the world’s most popular ball game began way back in 2006.
Caroline known by most as ‘Carol FIFA’ says that the opprtunity was presented to her by Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA ) when she was still a highschool student and when she tasted the benefits she simply could not cut her refereeing journey short.
The brilliant sports lady hailing from Huruma, Nairobi tells Ghetto Radio News that all she had to offer when the opportunity was presented to her by the women and youth group was her time and dedication which saw her become one of the fast rising female referees in grassroot football in the country.
“MYSA started an empowerment program ndio watu wasikae idle so I joined the the referee trainings. It was free ilikuwa tu wewe ujitolee time yako, nikaenda nikafunzwa na nikapenda kuendelea kuofficiate. Ni kitu fun plus it’s a source of income,” she says.
Carol FIFA is not only a referee since she is also a player of the sport herself. Although she does not play professionally she is a great lover of football and she reveals that she participates in the local tournaments.
Challenges in Carol FIFA’s journey
Since challenges are bound to be present in day-to-day life, Carol mentions some of the experiences that she has gone through in her quest to perfect her refereeing skills.
She mentions that at times they fall vicytim to selfish officials who give them slashed allowances or when they are unlucky they go home empty handed.
Insecurity at the grounds also poses as a threat to referees but Carol says that somehow they still manage to get through it
“Insecurity hukua but game lazima ichezwe ju unafeel ni game ya mtaa huwezi acha iende ama mpeane walk over. As a lady you feel threatened but unang’ang’ana.”
You can never miss rowdy crowds who hurl insults at referees but for Carol the best way to deal with such is to ignore the noise.
“You get players or even a coach insulting you lakini inaingilia kwa sikio moja ikitokea kwa hii ingine ju huwezi acha negativity ikuweke down.”
Carol FIFA is however hopeful that some changes are going to be put in place to ensure that both men and women are treated equally in the sport and that the leaders are going to put those in the football sector at heart instead of their selfish gains.
By Stella Anyango.