A Samoan woman referee is determined to be the first Samoan official at the Women’s International Federation of Association Football (F.I.F.A.) World Cup.
A former Manu Sina rugby player and boxer, Maria Akenese Salamasina, has been a qualified football referee for more than eight years in Samoa.
She was selected to represent Samoa in the 2018 F.I.F.A. women’s under-20 held in Paris, France this year.
“It all started when I saw that there were not many women in this profession especially for Samoa. I am only aware that there are five women football referees so for Samoa alone. You hardly hear a woman become a football referee, for me to be a Samoan woman to achieve this, I am quite self-motivated to take it to another distance,” she said.
“But also due to the fact that I want to leave a legacy behind so my children will say ‘my mother was the first Samoan woman referee for football in the F.I.F.A. World Cup for women’. I am a qualified referee for football and a linesman and I want to set an example for other women to see that you can be successful in doing so.”
Talking about her training regime, Maria said it was tough as on Monday she does strength exercise and high intensity exercises on Tuesday and Thursday.
“My normal schedule for example, on a Monday I have a strength exercise, it means a core exercise, you go to the gym. But for Tuesday and Thursday, it is high intensity training, for one hour and a half to train, it is quite extreme. But for Saturday’s it is the games, and my active recover is done on Sunday meaning I rest,” she said.
Her family is behind her in her strive to reach the pinnacle of her football referring career.
“For example, if I feel lazy to do my trainings, they will always push me. They tell me to be strong and not give up so easily for nothing worth having comes easy. Sometimes my phone would ring early in the morning but it is my parents calling to wake me up for my trainings. Not only my family but my very own personal coach is my husband. He does my trainings every morning, night time; so many times I give him so many headaches. But it never stopped his love and for me to be better and improve in whatever I do.”