Football is a game considered too burly for women. Although there are women teams and women’s world cup is also held, the game can become very aggressive in the heat of the moment. Referees often have to bear the brunt of the players when unhappy with a decision.
However, this has not stopped Poojana HC, a girl from Tumakuru, Karnataka, from hoping to become the first woman FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association)referee from Karnataka.
Poojana, 22, hails from Hanchihalli in Tumakuru and is a national-level footballer. Poojana took up refereeing in 2013 at the suggestion of her coach Padmapriya Singur after she ran out of girls to form a team.
The Bangalore Mirror reported that Poojana balances her passion as a referee with college (she’s pursuing an MSc in Biochemistry).
“Sometimes, the simulation classes were conducted from 7-9 pm. I leave for Tumakuru by bus and reach there by about 1 am. Fortunately, my father comes to pick me up from the bus stand there. There are also early morning classes on Sunday at 8 am. If I have to attend those, I leave my home at 4 am,” said Poojana to Bangalore Mirror.
She gets paid Rs 500 for a local match and Rs 1,000 for a national match.
Poojana, who will next officiate in the Sub-Junior Girls' National Football Championship in Imphal, says that her ultimate goal is to become a FIFA referee. She says the C Division games turn more violent than matches involving women. “In the age-group tournaments, the younger girls are sometimes not aware of the rules and often end up making mistakes like kicking during a throw-in or leaving the line during a goal-kick,” she said. “Verbal abuse is common in the men’s game. No surprises there,” she told Bangalore Mirror.
Poojana, however, is currently the only girl officiating from Karnataka. “Whenever I go to national events or attend workshops, I happen to be the only woman from Karnataka,” she said. There are more girls coming in from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra she said.
Last year G Ruba Devi became the first woman from Tamil Nadu to qualify as FIFA referee.