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Young referee Perry eyes FIFA debut

Rani Perry referees the OFC U-19 Women's Championship Semi Final between Vanuatu v New Zealand in 2019. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

While Tahiti’s Rani Perry is busy looking after her new son, a refereeing debut on the world stage remains the ultimate goal.

The 23-year-old was introduced to the game as a player for AS Pirae Football Club and began to balance playing and refereeing commitments from the age of 16.

Having spent most of her teens competing against boys, she helped form Pirae’s women’s team in 2017 where they finished runners-up in Tahiti’s Senior Women’s Championship.

That same year, Perry was fast-tracked to her first OFC refereeing appointment between Fiji and Tonga at the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in New Zealand.

Passionate about women having equal opportunities, she was inspired by her father Henri Perry who also played, officiated and coached.

“My father and I are close and have a good relationship, he gives me tips which help my confidence,” she said.

“I’m also thankful for the support I have from Yvonnick Faatau, Norbert Hauata and our federation’s referees.

“I was nervous when I first started but the more games I did, the more I appreciated the job. That along with passion is why I’m still doing it today.”

Rani Perry and her assistants. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

In 2019, Perry fell pregnant with her first child but she has returned to the pitch to officiate men’s Ligue 1 matches this season.

“It was an unexpected surprise, it was also the same morning FIFA invited me to attend the 2019 Kelme FISU University World Cup as part of the refereeing team in China,” Perry said.

“I had found out two pieces of good news at one time.”

She was unable to attend the tournament in China but is committed to improving as an official.

“On the field I have to be brave as it’s uncommon to see a girl referee in men’s games particularly and because of that you have to earn respect,” she said.

“It can be tough physically and mentally but I’m not afraid.”

The new arrival has provided her with a different perspective on life.

“I knew being a mum could have impacted my refereeing career, but my son was the miracle I needed at the time, he saved me.

“Physically my body has changed, my cardio has slowed down, but my goal of refereeing at a FIFA World Cup hasn’t.

“I understand it will be hard work but since giving birth I am more motivated than ever.”

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