The All India Football Federation (AIFF) referees director, Ravishankar J, said the Indian women referees have improved significantly of late will be able to officiate Hero I-League in near future.
In an interview with AIFF TV, Ravishankar said the benchmark has been set for female referees to undergo the fitness tests for male referees and conduct Hero I-League matches in the near future.
Former FIFA referee Ravishankar said: “Our target for the women referees is to make them capable to undergo the men’s fitness tests and to be able to officiate Hero I-League matches.”
“They will also have to take the challenge head-on because it’ll be more challenging physically as well as psychologically. I am confident that they have the quality to match our expectations,” he added.
There are a total of 8 referees and 10 assistant referees in the elite FIFA panel from India.
Of these referees, Ranjita Devi Tekcham and Kanika Barman are enlisted amongst the referees whereas Riiohlang Dhar and Uvena Fernandes are in the category of assistant referees.
While Uvena is on the list since 2014, Riiohlang Dhar and Ranjita Devi were first enlisted in 2018.
Kanika Barman is the latest entrant who was added to the elite list in 2020.
While discussing the development of the women referees, Ravishankar made a special mention about the Hero Indian Women’s League (IWL).
He said the women referees have been performing ‘exceptionally well’.
“Our women referees have done exceptionally well. Ranjita is rated as one of the top women match officials in Asia. With the Hero IWL coming in, they are getting more chances,” Ravishankar said.
“About (Kanika) Barman, I am sure she would be able to do a better job and comparatively, she would come out faster,” he added.
Uvena Fernandes has already experienced officiating in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Ravishankar hopes that the remaining three women referees will get a taste of the same experience at the forthcoming FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to be hosted by India.
“We are hopeful the trio will also get an opportunity to prove their worth in the U-17 Women’s World Cup in India next year. It is our aspiration and it will be a really proud moment for us,” the AIFF referees director added.