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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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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google, Facebook face greater scrutiny in Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?