A file photo of Ranjita Devi officiating a match. (PC: FIFA)

Women referees Ranjita Devi and Ri-iolang Dhar: Breaking streotypes in football

Information about Women referees Ranjita Devi and Ri-iolang Dhar: Breaking streotypes in football

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The All-India Football Federation (AIFF) have announced that two female officials – Ranjita Devi Tekcham and Ri-iolang Dhar – will be refereeing in the men’s game of I-League Qualifiers 2021.

Ranjita Devi Tekcham and assistant referee Ri-iolang Dhar are former footballers in their respective states, Manipur and Meghalaya, respectively.

The female officials have busted the myth that women cannot officiate in a men’s game with both enjoying their refereeing assignments in the ongoing I-League qualifiers.

Read: AFC Women’s Asia Cup 2022 tagline unveiled

While both Ranjita Devi and Ri-iolang Dhar have officiated in international women’s matches, taking to the field in the men’s game at the national level was an altogether different experience.

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 belongs to every woman and football lover across the Continent. It stands for the unified efforts of all stakeholders in creating a bright future for women’s football that keeps encompassing unchartered ground.@IndianFootball
@theafcdotcom

Assistant referee Ri-iolang Dhar said the main difference between the men’s and the women’s game is the pace. She said:

“The pace is very different to the women’s game, so we have to be at the top of our fitness. There are a lot more body challenges in the men’s game, which means that tempers could also run high during a match. It’s all up to us referees to maintain control of the situations in such cases.”

The 31-year-old Ri-iolang Dhar became a national referee in 2017 before becoming a FIFA panel referee the following year. She said becoming a referee was a way of staying connected with football.

“When I stopped playing, I felt very disconnected from the game. I soon realized that I could not stay away from football for too long, so when the opportunity to become a referee came along, I decided to take it up.”

Referee Assessors come to Ranjita Devi’s aid

Ranjita Devi takes a lot of tips from the Referee Assessors in terms of using their experience to help her on the pitch. She said:

“Men’s matches are quite different from the referee’s point of view. Fitness is obviously a key factor, but we also take a lot of help from our senior referees or Referee Assessors.”

Our #MondayMotivation is TEKCHAM RANJITA DEVI, the youngest of 5 siblings and parents who work as farmers she went out to achieve her dreams 🤩✅ Professional Footballer 🏃‍♀️
✅ Women Constable 👮‍♀️
✅ 2nd & now the only active 🇮🇳 Indian female Referee with a FIFA Referee Badge https://t.co/KHDfHFwDTs

The 36-year-old Ranjita Devi became a national referee in 2016 and joined the FIFA panel in 2018 and said she took inspiration from her brother, who loved the game and wanted to become a referee.

“My brother was an inspiration to me. He could not become a national level referee himself for different reasons, but he inspired me to become one.”

With both Ranjita Devi and Ri-iolang Dhar leading the way, the future for women referees looks bright in India.

Also read: Meet Sumati Kumari – Indian football’s next big thing


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