Nigeria’s female referees have missed out on the opportunity of being named among the lot for an innovative step by Confederation of African Football (CAF) to have women handle matches involving male players.
The innovation will be set in motion at this year’s Africa U-17 Cup of Nations in Tanzania, but not a single Nigerian female arbiter made the cut for pioneers in the venture.
While no Nigerian ref is on the cards, CAF are going ahead with the historic step, as the continental soccer governing body set in motion a trailblazing decision to see women refs handle games of the opposite sex, debuting at Tanzania 2019.
A media statement by the continental soccer governing body noted: “The landmark conclusion was the highlight of the CAF Referees Committee meeting held on 26 February 2019 at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, and had in attendance CAF President Ahmad Ahmad.
“The historic decision is a testament to CAF’s commitment to developing the women’s football.
“It will also give women match officials a bigger platform to expose their talents and also gain experience at the competitive level considering the limited matches and competitions, which often affects their progress and development.
“In line with that, the trailblazers consist of Tanzanian referee Jonesia Rukyaa Kabakama, and assistant referees’ Mary Wanjiru Njoroge (Kenya) and Lidwine Rakotozafinoro (Madagascar) are among the pre-selected 29-match officials to undergo a training course in Casablanca, Morocco from 31 March to 4 April 2019, to fine-tune for the tournament.
“Fifteen (15) referees and 14 assistant referees from 25 Member Associations will undergo medical, physical and theoretical test to select the conclusive list of match officials for the final tournament scheduled for 14-28 April 2019 in Tanzania.
“For the final tournament, host Tanzania, Nigeria, Angola and Uganda are in Group A, whilst Guinea, Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal constitute Group B.
“The semi-finalists will qualify to represent the continent at the FIFA U-17 World Cup at a yet to be confirmed venue.”