Fédération Internationale de Football Association (French for International Federation of Association Football)




Fiji Woman Is FIFA Football Referee - Sport Achievements in Male Fields


June 22, 2009


Finau Vulivuli yellow-cards a Tavua player at the Fiji FACT two weekends ago at the TFL Stadium

Finau Vulivuli yellow-cards a Tavua player at the Fiji FACT two weekends ago at the TFL Stadium

SHE is one of the two qualified FIFA referees in the country.

It is an achievement that is just the tip of an iceberg from years of experience as an official and player, local and international.

She represented Fiji on two occasions -- as a national soccer rep to the 2003 South Pacific Games and the Oceania Football Confederation Olympics play-off.

Apart from her spotless record, she is a high school mathematics teacher, a beauty queen contestant at the Miss Savusavu pageant in 2003 and last year, she was the Fiji Football Association referee of the year.

Call her a tomboy or super girl, 26 years old Finau Vulivuli saw everything that came her way as an opportunity to serve.

"When you miss those, you miss a lifetime's achievement," Finau said.

"For me, I take it as it comes," she said.

As much as she sees herself in the game representing her country still, her hectic school schedule and posting to St Bede's College at Savusavu in Vanua Levu took her away from the limelight of the game.

But it did not discourage her by pursuing the game as a referee.

Her entrye as an official referee at the Fiji FACT soccer tournament beside 15 male referees was only accepted after she qualified through a series of physical fitness tests where she beat dozens of male referees.

Last year, she officiated at the women's Algarve Cup Championship in Portugal from the 5th to the 12th of March before making her way to New Zealand for the Under-17 World Women's League in November the same year. For the saying "a woman in a man's world" mostly used for women involved in fields where man once ruled meant nothing to her for the differences are always visible.

"I cannot claim to be a man even though I do a man's job on the field.

"I am still very much of a woman," she said.

It was through the lens of a photographer that picked the expression of the woman whose movements seemed to grace the field rather than play on it.

From sharp blasts of the whistle to flashing yellow cards penalising players, all were done over what felt and looked like a blush.

Within those few seconds she became the game's favourite.

Finau controlled games from the youth competition to the super premier division at the Fiji FACT.

As the only female referee of the game, she attracted the best cheers from the sideline so much that the excitement of the games seemed to fall behind in her shadow.

She said it was not new to her because she was used to such attention lavished on her, being the favourite in her family and the second in between two brothers who are both professional footballers.

The elder, Tomasi Vulivuli is a national soccer rep and the younger one plays for the Queensland Reds in second division rugby in Australia.

She has not made up her mind about her future.

At the moment, she is taking one thing at a time.

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