FIFA call up Rupa Devi from Tamil Nadu to officiate International matches
In what is a huge boost for women's football and women's sport in general, Rupa Devi, a resident and teacher from Dindigul, Tamil Nadu has been selected by FIFA to officiate future International football matches. She was the only Indian selected as part of the Asian body’s ‘Future referees’ project back in 2013 and now holds the honor of being one of India's first women referees to officiate on the international stage.
Rupa Devi's run-in with football started when she played for her college's – Madurai Kamarajar University – team. She also played for the Dindigul Football Association before making appearances for the state and the national team, report Tamilnadu Central – a local online newspaper.
The 24-year-old holds an academic background in Chemistry as well as physical education which has helped her immensely in her being selected by FIFA. Her refereeing experiences include state and national level matches and the AFC Under-14 Football Festival held in Doha, 2013.
The Doha event comprised of teams mainly from the Middle East including those of Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain. Rupa made the grade for the tournament after impressing in two of her previous tests held at Jamshedpur and Jabalpur. She was also asked to supervise a football competition held in Sri Lanka which, according to her, is what prepared her well for the trip to Doha.
“At Doha, I was given the opportunity to officiate as a central referee in three matches, one as the assistant referee and another as the fourth referee. I have done the job to the best of my ability. I am hoping for more opportunities,” she told The Hindu on her return.
Over the past few years, football has started to find its way back into Indians – especially those in rural areas of the Southern states. Dindigul, the city where Rupa Devi hails from, is in the district of Madurai and is well known to encourage and produce young footballing talents and the case of Devi is just what the city, the district and the rest of the country needed in terms of exposure and hope.