Rupa Devi is back, richer in experience and high in hope after doing duty as a referee in the AFC under-14 football festival held in Doha. She was the only Indian selected as part of the Asian body’s ‘Future referees’ project.
The 23-year-old Physical Training school teacher in Dindigul is a member of the Tamil Nadu football team. How long she will remain in the squad has to be seen considering the strides she has made on the refereeing front.
The only women’s referee from Tamil Nadu to have risen this high, Rupa is keen to get into the AFC panel of referees at some point of time.
“At Doha, I was given the opportunity to officiate as a central referee in three matches, one as the assistant referee and another as the fourth referee. I have done the job to the best of my ability. I am hoping for more opportunities,” she said on her return. The Doha event involved teams from Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain. Rupa said her trip to Doha materialised after her success in two earlier tests in Jamshedpur and Jabalpur, apart from supervising a competition in Sri Lanka.
Interestingly, she is yet to don the role of a ‘national referee’ because this current development is part of the AIFF and AFC’s programmes to pick young referees as part of their plans to draw a pool of quality officials for future competitions.
Rupa has big plans: to take refereeing seriously and become a National referee even as she dreams of picking up the whistle for international events in Asia.