Refereeing development for women continues to be a priority for the Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA).

Opportunities for women to develop fulfil pillars of the ALL IN: OFC Women’s Football Strategy 2027, such as increasing the capacity and capability of girls and women in football, raising the awareness of possibilities and improving gender equality.

Head of PNGFA Refereeing Jimmy Warai said the ongoing efforts from the association have seen a dramatic increase over the past three years with now close to 160 active female referees in the country.

“The quantities are there, this year and moving forward we will be working hard to maintain the quality and retain the numbers,” Warai said.

Earlier this year, PNGFA held a week-long FIFA-MA Referee Workshop in Mount Hagen for 35 referees.

In May, at the Highlands Conference of the PNG Women’s National Soccer League, history was made as it was the first time women took part in football at the highest level and had all-female officiating crews.

“Refereeing has no gender when it comes to male and female refereeing,” Warai said.

“It’s very important that women get equal treatment as they are an integral part of refereeing and development.”

Most recently in July, an all-female referees refresher course saw 31 referees and assistant referees across 18 associations in the country take part.

Conducted by Warai and OFC Referees Development Officer Neil Poloso, the week-long event covered the Laws of the Game, fitness tests and provided learning materials from the FIFA Referee Education and Development platform.

Warai said the FIFA/OFC programme has played a major role in assisting the development of female referees in Papua New Guinea.

“I enjoy seeing women participate in courses as it’s breaking down barriers in my eyes,” Warai said.

“These courses are important for skill enhancement, development and capacity building. I hope to see these women conduct their own female referee courses, competitions and refereeing activities in the near future.”