FIFA has selected two women from Bhutan to serve as referee and assistance referee from the handful of women referees in the country.
Choki Wangmo, 25, a graduate from Gaeddu College of Business Studies, will take the post of a referee while Tshering Choden, 23, a class XII student will take the post as an assistant referee in FIFA.
The two of them were sent to Malaysia earlier this year, to attend 4 days Asian Football Confederation (AFC) referee and assistance referee course.
Two of them were informed about being selected for Elite course in AFC, however, they said that they did not reach the level of elite because to reach that level they needed more time.
“If we reach elite level, we will be included in the top referees where we will be assigned for frequent matches both in and outside country,” Choki Wangmo said.
Choki Wangmo said she always wanted to be sports woman and she entered referring from class X with a basic referee course.
“I have been refereeing in National leagues, in local match and during schools sports meet,” she said.
“When I heard we have been selected for FIFA, I felt so proud and I was so happy,” she said. “I finally achieved my dream to be a sports woman.”
She has been attending a Member Association (MA) course since 2011 which is the top level course in the country.
Today, excluding local matches, they do a referring three to four times a week for club and league matches.
“We used to get assignments during B and C league matches while the A division is assigned only to high officials,” she said.
As of today, the minimum amount they get is Nu 350 a match and a maximum of Nu 500 per match. However, she also said that sometimes they get only two to three matches in a week and this happens when there is no tournament.
She said they don’t face much difficulty being a referee for men’s matches because though they sometime come across rude attitudes they are not treated as bad as men referees.
“What we need is to be physically fit and also a supportive family,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tshering Choden said that she never thought of getting selected in FIFA out of many women referees in the country as she recently started as a referee. “My friend encouraged me to join and take up the course of referee in Gelephu I did so,” she said.
She said that it is her second year as a referee and she hopes to do no less than a man in future. “I have full support from family and I think I am doing good,” she said.
An official from Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) said they provide fitness training, theoretical training and practical classes on laws of the game are given to referees.
He said the main challenges for female referees are maintaining fitness level, family responsibilities, and academic pressure as some of them are students.
“I think that there is lot of opportunity as anyone can be a national referee, FIFA/AFC referee, Elite referee, FIFA/AFC instructors and referee assessor,” he said.