CAN 2022: Rwandan Salima Mukansanga, first woman to officiate as referee at an African Cup of Nations (portrait)

Abidjan, Officially started on Sunday January 09, 2022 in Cameroon, the African Cup of Nations, the great mass of African football, is already historic because a woman, the Rwandan Salima Mukansanga, 33, officiates as a referee.

However, in her youth, basketball attracted more Salima Mukansanga. “I loved basketball and wanted to take it very seriously, but access to basketball infrastructure and coaches was difficult. This is how I ended up refereeing, which I have never regretted, ”she indicated.

This passion for arbitration developed during his high school years, in the district of Musanze. The following year, after her baccalaureate, she obtained her first arbitration certificate, while pursuing a license in nursing and midwifery at Gitwe University, Rwanda.

From 2008 to 2014, Salima Mukansanga gradually launched her career during a few matches in the Rwandan men’s second division and during women’s meetings. In 2012, she was promoted to referee by CAF and began to take part in various club meetings all over the continent, even selection matches, but as an assistant referee.

The main turning point took place in 2014, when she served as central referee for the first time in an international match, for a Zambia – Tanzania in qualifying for the 2014 African Women’s Championship. A performance including the main one. interested is very proud and sees it as a pivotal moment. “It’s thanks to the way I handled this game that I have proven my ability to lead matches at any level on the continent. It was an exciting experience. Since that day, I have been trusted to officiate countless international matches in Africa and beyond, ”she explained.

The rest accelerated for Salima Mukansanga. Opening match and semi-final of the 2015 African Games, final of the 2016 African Women’s Cup of Nations, central and only African referee at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup, in Uruguay in 2018. Finally, in 2019, she was selected to officiate as central referee at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, held in France.

An experience in France that she will never forget. “A World Cup officer is every referee’s dream, especially when you come from a country like mine where women’s football is still very low. I feel privileged for the opportunity. « 

After her participation in the Tokyo Olympics last summer, the 33-year-old Rwandan has just taken a new step by becoming a referee of an international men’s competition.


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