Match officials set to take part

A match official trio will also fly the flag for Oceania at the prestigious event, which takes place in Germany from June 26 to July 17.
Fijian referee Finau Vulivuli has been selected to control some of the tournament’s matches and will be joined by the other members of her trio, assistant referees Jacqui Stephenson (New Zealand) and Lata Tuifutuna (Tonga).
The trio have been named among 19 other teams from across the globe for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Two other Oceania trios have also been selected for upcoming FIFA events.
New Zealand’s Peter O’Leary will be joined by Ravinesh Kumar (Fiji) and Jackson Namo (Solomon Islands) at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia from July 29 to August 20 while Tahiti’s Norbert Hauata will take Mark Rule (New Zealand) and David Charles (Papua New Guinea) with him to the U-17 tournament in Mexico from June 18 to July 10.
Fiji Football Association (Fiji FA) chief executive officer Bob Kumar says the appointment of Savusavu-based teacher Vulivuli and Ravinesh Kumar is a significant achievement for the national body.
“This is indeed great news for Fiji FA,” he says.
“To have our local referees selected to officiate at the highest level goes to show that we have very capable people who can do the job well. On behalf of the Fiji FA family and President Dr Muhammed Shams-UD-Dean Sahu Khan, I would like to wish the referees all the best and hope they make the country proud.”
Kumar is keen to encourage other young referees in the region to remain focused and follow in the footsteps of Vulivuli.
“This sort of appointment will no doubt open doors for other local referees in the country. My advice to them is to stay focused and not give up hope as opportunities are there for the taking.”
New Zealand’s Jacqui Stephenson, who has run the line for games at two previous FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cups, is excited about stepping up to the bigger stage and hopes it will lead to more females picking up the whistle and flag.
“The World Cup is the pinnacle and, for me, this opportunity is the culmination of four years of hard work, both physically and mentally, and a lot of sacrifice,” the mother-of-two says.
“I’d like to think it might encourage more women to try refereeing knowing there is a pathway to reach big events.”
With Peter O’Leary and Mark Rule heading to the U-20 and U-17 World Cups respectively, New Zealand lead the way in the recent Oceania appointments and New Zealand Football (NZF) referee development officer Ken Wallace says the foundations are in place for that trend to continue.
“We have got a very clear pathway now through local and national leagues to OFC tournaments and onto the wider stage,” he says.
“That pathway is backed by comprehensive referee development programmes, some extremely valuable international relationships with organisations like the Professional Game Match Officials in the UK, the NZF board and fantastic volunteers up and down the country.”
The involvement of the three OFC trios in the upcoming FIFA events is the latest positive result of the confederation’s Refereeing Assistance Programme (RAP).
OFC places great importance on developing world-class referees and this has been strongly supported by FIFA through its funding of the programme.
Under the supervision of referee development officer Massimo Raveino, referee instructor Neil Poloso and fitness trainer Kader Touati, the programme is helping to create a more organised, professional approach to refereeing in the Pacific.

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