By Omolagba Oluwayemi
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
Mauritania’s referee Mariem Chedad who was interviewed by CAFonline.com recently is one of the match officials at the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations at home.
The 25 years old first woman referee from Mauritania to officiate in a CAF major event, told CAFOnline.com. I’m living a dream’, ‘I just hope that this will give more opportunities to women of my country to live their passion, play sport and contribute to our country development.’
When she was asked about how she sees her nomination as a referee in the first CAF tournament to be hosted by Mauritania, she responded;
“Well, at the beginning I thought it’s a joke. I could not believe it. Officiating during a CAF competition which is taking place at home for the first time. It is a great blessing and afterwards I told myself I must be up to the task to comfort all my supporters and give the opportunity to other young Mauritanians to show interest in sport in general, and football and refereeing in particular.”
She was also asked ow she found her way into a sport more linked to men in her country:
“I was lucky to be born into a very open family. A Mauritanian father and a sports-keen Ukrainian mother who introduced me to sports very early on, besides, my mother practices athletics and she is a marathoner, and thanks to her, I did the Marrakech (Morocco) marathon in 2016.
She was further asked how she got into football
“My mother pushed me to play sports, I practiced kickboxing, taekwondo and football as I played futsal in mixed teams at home in Nouadhibou, but it did not go far and I almost gave up, until referee AbdelAziz Bouh informed us of the arrival of a prospecting mission led by the former international referee Idrissa Sarr in 2016. From there I started and did not stop till now.”
One could categorically say it was the frustration of not being able to play football that drove her into refereeing.
“The truth is I love order, and for everything to be always in place. And as I adore football, I found in refereeing the necessary suitable place for me, she added.”
When asked about studies, she said:
“I prepare a Masters degree of Logistics at a private university. I was lucky to have understandable managers who arrange my studies and exams. I conduct my studies and refereeing simultaneously, I officiate in Mauritanian Super League Divisions 1 and 2.
It’s going really well and the other referees are encouraging us a lot because we are just a few women.”
“There is no problem, the rules are universal even if it goes faster in the men’s game, but I am used to doing it in the local championship. It is true that in AFCON it goes faster and the stakes are huge, but I just focus on my part and it’s going well, this she said when asked how she’ll fare if invited to referee in men’s AFCON.
And finally about her ultimate dream with refereeing, she replied:
“To go as far as possible, do all the big competitions and I would give myself the means to get there because in a way, I have become a model for my sisters.
“Mauritania will be done with its men and women and I am so proud to see my parents, especially my father, being happy with my presence in this competition. During my last match (Morocco-Ghana) he was present and I saw his smile from afar. And for nothing in the world, I do not want to change this pride that I have given to my family.”
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