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Meet AFCON’s first ever female referee

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Safiu Kehinde

One of the surprise packages unbundled at this year’s African Cup of Nations is the inclusion of Salima Mukansanga among the list of referees for the tournament, making her the first female referee to officiate in the tournament.

The 33-year-old Rwandan started her refereeing career in 2018. Prior to the discovery of her path, she once desired to be a basketball player while growing up. However, she found passion in football and decided to become an official.

Aside being appointed to officiate in the 1st Rwandan men’s division, Mukansanga has featured on international grounds, earning herself wide recognition. She officiated at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, 2019 women’s World Cup in France, 2018 female under-17 World Cup, and Under 23 Olympic qualifiers.

She is also part of the FIFA International Referees List, making her qualified to officiate at international level and wear a FIFA badge on her uniform.

Also in Africa, Mukansanga has made appearances at the inaugural CAF Women Champions League and Africa Women’s Nation Cup.

However, the Rwandan is not the only female called up to officiate at the ongoing AFCON. Carine Atemzabong (Cameroon), Fatiha Jermoumi (Morocco), and Bouchra Karboubi (Morocco) are also called up, but are to take up the roll of Assistant Referees. Mukansanga is only female that will feature at the middle of the pitch during the ongoing tournament.

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