History was made in Suva on over the weekend, as Fiji’s Shweta Shaniya becomes OFC’s first ever female match controller.
Shaniya first took charge of a friendly between Tahiti and New Caledonia, then the next day was in charge of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup third and fourth playoff game between Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
Shaniya is 24 years old and has been working in the Fiji Football Association’s (FFA) competitions department for the past two years. Before the big game, she described her feelings of excitement.
“I’m not from a football background, but I joined FFA and am in my second year. I’m really looking forward to today’s match. I was nervous at the start of the tournament but feel comfortable now.”
Match controllers have a varied and busy role, making sure all the facilities are ready before teams arrive, that the field, making note of cards, injuries and substitutions, as well as ensuring the players and officials are ready to walk on the field at the allotted time. The match controller also has the responsibility of signalling time on for the referee, effectively starting the match, as well as filing all the necessary paper work to make it an official international fixture.
Shaniya was guided through the role of match controller by OFC’s Chris Kemp and Michael Song. Kemp, has eight experience in the role of OFC Competitions Director, while Song has over a decade in event coordination and is currently OFC Competitions and Events Manager.
“My team mates are good!” said Shaniya about the OFC staff.
“The most important thing I’ve learned is time management. Things come down to the last minute, so my skills have improved a lot.”
“It’s a great feeling putting my hand up to start the match.”
The friendly between Tahiti and New Caledonia was a helpful warmup for Shaniya, as it was a little more relaxed and she could look to her team mates for guidance. But the day of the finals meant that the pressure was on to get everything running smoothly.
“I would like to thank the Fiji FA president Mr Patel, the board, Mr Muhammed Yusuf, my manager Mr Amitesh Pal and the OFC. Chris, Michael I would like to thank everyone for the training and the opportunity to be a match controller.”
Shaniya’s two games ended as a 4-1 win for Tahiti over New Caledonia in their friendly match, while the third place playoff between the Solomon Islands and Samoa was locked 1-1 after full time. The Solomons took out the resulting shootout 6-5.