There are numerous ways to be involved in football – player, referee, administrator – and 20-year-old Rani Perry of Tahiti has tried her hand at most of them, including playing across all three disciplines of the game; football, futsal and beach soccer.
Having successfully created a team, AS Pirae, to compete in Tahiti’s Senior Women’s Championship where they finished runners-up, she also took out third place with futsal team Hamuta Val in the Festival des îles in March, and plays beach soccer with club side Tiki Tama.
She’s busy preparing to make her regional playing debut for Tahiti in the OFC Women’s Nations Cup which will be held in New Caledonia in November but right now, the FTF and OFC referee is jetting her way to Russia to tackle a different challenge.
Perry has been invited to take part in a two-day seminar in Russia called “Captains of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow”.
The seminar is bringing together the captains of the 16 teams which will participate in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Bretagne, France in August, but also promising referees from each Confederation as well, which is where Perry comes in.
Also attending will be New Zealand’s Malia Stienmetz, who was nominated by New Zealand Football to represent the U-20 women’s team.
The seminar is intended to equip these young talents with additional skills to support them in their challenging roles as leaders on the pitch, but also educate them on what possibilities lie ahead beyond their on-field careers.
Perry’s introduction to football came via her father – a player, coach and referee.
“I started playing at eight years old,” she said.
“Then there was no longer any women’s football so I played with the boys. I then started playing futsal at 16 years old. At the same time, I became interested in refereeing.”
Initially she said the interest in refereeing developed from a desire to better understand the game.
“I enjoyed it so I continued. I went through a lot of courses put in place by FTF and FIFA every year. That’s what has allowed me to progress, as well as also putting it into practice on the field.”
Perry said her first mentors were Jean Claude Perrard and Alain Devienne, but she’s also learned a lot from those that followed including Raimana Tauotaha, Stephane Tetauira, Yvonnick Faatau and Charles Ariiotoma.
She said a certain character is required to be a referee, in particular in Tahiti where she’s called on to referee the men’s game.
“Maybe in other places others referee just women’s football but here in Tahiti, due to the lack of referees, we have to try and officiate the men and so you have to try and be imposing, or at least try to be. We try to make sure the rules of football are respected, while doing as best we can every time.”
Looking ahead to her departure for Russia, Perry said the fact she was heading off on her own had her feeling a little worried but she remained positive about the experience.
“It’s an opportunity for me to discover a new country. The subject of the seminar also interests me a lot because here in Tahiti we encounter a lot of difficulties for our women.
“It’s a chance for me to share with the other participants, and to learn.”