Indian referee Uvena Fernandes and All India Football Federation (AIFF) Women’s Football Manager Sapna Rani appear in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s “It’s My Game” campaign, which continues with videos highlighting exceptional women playing football and working in the game across the Continent.
Showcasing the various career paths available for women in football, Sapna Rani talks passionately about her devotion and hard work to enter and stay in the game:
“I started as a volunteer and then became the first female referee in Delhi,” said Rani. “With a lot of training I got slip disk, but I didn’t want to leave football. It was a dream for me to work for the AIFF and now I am the Women’s Football Manager.”
AFC and FIFA international referee Uvena Fernandes said: “I’ve officiated men’s matches and they’ve never questioned me.
“But if you want to achieve your dream, you have to work hard. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”
The campaign celebrates women’s contribution to Asian football and emphasises their varied roles within it, illustrating football as a career option for women and girls.
In addition to featuring top-class players, the campaign celebrates women’s contribution to Asian football and emphasises their varied roles within it, illustrating football as a career option for women and girls.
In addition to Sapna Rani and Uvena Fernandes, AFC referee assessor Maria Piedade Rebello also appears in the campaign.
The series of new videos features women’s football stars from different parts of Asia who play at the top of the game internationally, such as Korea Republic international Ji So-yun, two-time Women’s FA Cup winner with Chelsea FC Women in England. The campaign highlights powerful stories by women who have carved a profession in football against all obstacles.
Other women included in the new videos, furthering women’s football across Asia as coaches, are Rhoda Bamba from Guam and Rahaf Kroom for Syria.
In a separate video, internationally known women’s rights activist and former Afghanistan national team player Khalida Popalzai speaks about the serious threats she faced in her home country as a girl playing football.
She had to flee as a refugee and is now working with the Afghanistan women’s national team as the Programme and Event Director.
The It’s My Game campaign started on March 8 this year, on the AFC Women’s Football Day. So far, it has garnered a total reach of 497,752 on the AFC’s digital platforms, with 271,905 impressions and 240,571 video views.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “We celebrate the women who work for the betterment of Asian football in our Member Associations, driven by their passion for the game. As the AFC strives to fulfil its vision of excellence, we cannot afford to ignore the vital contribution women make, on and off the pitch.
“Asia is the world’s biggest football stadium and women and girls are an important part of the future success of the game in the Continent. Fulfilling Asia’s football potential is possible only if it includes everyone: women, men, boys and girls.
“I trust that the It’s My Game campaign will encourage girls across Asia to see football as a viable future career option.”
The women featured in the videos share the difficulties they have had, and continue to have, as women in football, and how they overcame the obstacles. These challenges vary across countries, but they are still a reality across the Continent.