She may only be 19 years old, but Rani Perry is determined to be Tahiti’s next top export.
The Tahitian referee earned her first appointment at an OFC tournament on Tuesday, officiating the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship match between Fiji and Tonga.
Perry awarded two penalties for Fiji during the encounter but says she wasn’t intimidated, especially given she’s already taken charge of men’s matches at home in Tahiti.
“This tournament is very much a learning experience for me,” Perry said.
“I’m very happy to be here, the effort I have put in is paying off and I can’t wait to see what comes next. I thought for my first match I would be a fourth official but they put me directly in the middle. The match was 4-0 for Fiji, I whistled for two penalties.
Like many referees, Perry made her start in football as a player, following her father around at AS Pirae. But at 16, with the women’s league no longer active, her father proposed a switch to refereeing and although it took some convincing – she hasn’t looked back.
“I wanted to play, but little by little, I fell in love with officiating,”she said.
“It doesn’t bother me not playing futsal, beach soccer or football even though the women’s league has been back up-and-running for two years now.
“I’ve taken part in a lot of courses and refereed my first match at 16. I started as an assistant referee before being a central.
“After finishing high school I decided to take a sabbatical of a year to concentrate on refereeing.”
Things are going well for Perry so far, as she’s tipped to take on the role of fourth official for two games on Match Day 2, Fiji vs. New Zealand and Samoa vs. Tonga.
The referee with dreams of the world stage hopes to continue rewarding the faith in her with strong performances.
Story courtesy of Fédération Tahitienne de Football