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Challenging the Stereotype: Malawi’s Female Football Referee Shines on Male-dominated Field

In 2013, Kwimbiri-Mzika scooped up the best referee accolade for the Confederation of African Football Elite ‘A' Referees course for males and females, held in Egypt

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Kwimbira-Mzika says that being in a male dominated profession she endures insults from soccer fans very time she goes on field. Image Courtsey:VOA
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  • Kwimbira-Mzika’s became the first Malawian female referee to officiate at the Olympics in the Rio 2016 Olympics
  • She was voted the best assistant referee for Malawi’s top-level Super League last year
  • She says in a country where soccer officiating is dominated by men, she endures insults from soccer fans every time she steps on the field

In Malawi, a female football referee has been blazing new ground by officiating at major international contests, such as the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Bernadette Kwimbira-Mzika’s passion for refereeing started when she first attended football matches after joining the Malawian Army as a soldier 16 years ago.

“At that time, the only thing I knew about football was the offside thing,” she said, “when the assistant referee raises a flag and another referee blows a whistle and puts his arm up pointing other direction of the field. I was much interested in what the referees were doing.”

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A mother of two, Kwimbira-Mzika had to attend a refereeing course for beginners, where she earned a Grade 3 refereeing certificate.Now 35 years old and a secretary at the University of Malawi, Kwimbira-Mzika has been officiating matches for 14 years and has risen to the top of her field at both the local and international levels.

This year, Kwimbiri-Mzika became the first Malawian female referee to officiate at the Olympics. Last year, she became the first Malawian to referee at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Canada.

Also last year, she was voted the best assistant referee for Malawi’s top-level Super League.

In 2013, Kwimbiri-Mzika scooped up a best referee accolade for the Confederation of African Football Elite ‘A’ Referees course for males and females, held in Egypt.

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“Of course I wanted to get far with football officiation,” she said. “But to be honest with you, there was not a single day I imagined myself officiating at the world’s biggest football events like the World Cup and the Olympics.”

She owes her success to her adherence to the rules of the game.

“As a good referee, you do not have to pretend as if you have not seen something when you have clearly seen it or [you do not have to] make your own rules,” Kwimbiri-Mzika said. “Where it requires a yellow card, you have to caution that player. Where it requires a send-off, you have to show that player a red card.”

She says that, as a female football referee in a country where soccer officiating is dominated by men, she endures insults from soccer fans every time she steps on the field.”I do not give it a damn,” she says in response.

Madalitso Phiri, a sports editor at privately-owned Capital radio, says he has long followed Kwimbira-Mzika’s officiating.

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“I cannot remember any games that have ended in any kind of controversy,” he said, “so this speaks volumes that this lady knows what she does.”

Kwimbira-Mzika says it is her wish to maintain her reputation as a good referee until she retires, probably in about five years. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)