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Maria Rebello is one of the great sports personalities in the history of Indian women’s football. She is the only one to have represented India in three Asian Games and three Asia Cups as a footballer, referee, and referee instructor. Besides, she has been the first female referee in Indian football to have officiated a men’s competitive football match between Pune FC and Lajong FC in the I-League in 2014. Additionally, another precious feather has been added to her tiara after she became the first Indian female referee to have worked as referee-assessor for the FIFA-organized Under-17 World Cup that took place in October last year in India.
Still, even after having acquired all these laurels Maria Rebello in her 40s, does not seem content. She continues her physical training both in the morning and evening. Along with that, she also teaches football to the young promising footballers nearby her residence in Curtorim.
The three female referees’ created history by officiating matches in the recently held Fifa men’s World Cup in Qatar is inspiring Maria. While speaking over the phone from Goa, Maria said,
“It is great news for women referees across the world. We also can ensure places in the Fifa’s panel for the World Cup and to earn eligibility you have to keep yourself at the best both physically and mentally. I have been continuing that preparation.”
Maria added saying,
“It is a continuous process. Keeping myself at the best fitness level I will continue appearing for different examinations so that I can get the call in the more prestigious competitions including the Women’s World Cup.”
Despite there being no referee from India officiating in the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the silver lining for football fans is that Maria Rebello was selected to be one of the referee assessors for the competition that took place in October last year in India. Commenting on her experience on the job she did for the first time,
“It was not only a new experience, very interesting too. I also was appointed as one of the referees’ assessors in the women’s Asia Cup, held in India. I used to often conduct matches at the Asian level, assessing referees. But the Under-17 Women’s World Cup had a bigger stage where I could get an opportunity to assess referees’ performance all over the world. As a referees’ assessor, I had to give a feedback report of their performance after every match, and then I had to make small briefings on the performance after every match.”
Maria Rebello who was born and grew up in Curtorim in South Goa used to play the game from childhood and as there were no other girls playing football, so, Maria used to play the game with the boys only. After retiring from international football, Maria started refereeing in 1999 and refereed her first international friendly in 2008 in Mumbai. Maria who works as a football coach at Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) dreams of working as a referees’ assessor in the Fifa-organized Women’s World Cup.