Two Oceania match officials, who have recently taken leave from football to become mothers, have received important acknowledgement of their talent and dedication following their appointments to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Fijian referee Finau Vulivuli and New Zealand assistant referee Sarah Jones are the lone OFC officials, among a group of 15 referees and 30 assistant referees, to earn call-ups to the tournament in Uruguay this November.
The selection criteria for the match officials from 30 different countries was based on their experience in their respective association and confederation competitions, as well as their levels of fitness and ability to read the game.
Those selected for Uruguay will also be candidates to officiate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.
OFC Referee Development Officer Kevin Stoltenkamp said the selection of the pair is a fantastic reward for them following the hard work they’ve put in to get back to elite level match officiating.
“It is another great opportunity for our region to have representation on the international stage,” Stoltenkamp said.
“More importantly, it further highlights the opportunities for Women in Football, not only match officials, in the Pacific region.
“Both Finau and Sarah are being rewarded for their commitment and dedication to getting back to peak fitness to ensure they continue with their journey to France 2019.”
Stoltenkamp said the achievements of this pair shows that with personal determination and continued support anyone can achieve their dream.
“Both Finau and Sarah have had time off to have their first child. This will serve as added incentive for them to be successful in Uruguay which is a stepping stone in their journey to France 2019.”
Vulivuli is one of the leading female match officials in Fiji and Oceania and her journey proves as an inspiration to many young girls especially in her native Fiji.
Being able to balance career and family commitments while also being able to maintain her fitness and match officiating to the elite level requirements makes her a perfect role model, Stoltenkamp explained.
“Her appointment is immense for the development of female officials in Fiji,” he said.
“At the recent OFC Women’s Nations Cup Qualifier seminar in Fiji we had three young girls attend the course as observers.
“In discussions with them, they mentioned that Finau is the reason for them plucking up the courage to become referees.”
Stoltenkamp said these three young girls, aged between 11-12 years old, have continued working with the Fiji referee development officers following their introduction to regional match officiating and he hopes they will remain in training to become elite referees of the future.
“Women officials are important in our region as they are seen as role models in their respective Member Associations.”
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay will be played from 13 November to 1 December in three host cities.