Salima Rhadia Mukansanga made history at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) by becoming the first ever woman to officiate a match of the tournament.
The 33-year-old Rwandan was the fourth official on Monday as Guinea took on Malawi at the Bafoussam Omnisport Stadium in Kouekong.
Mukansanga has a rich history in football officiating, having also taken charge of games in other major tournaments before, including the Women’s World Cup, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, and the CAF Women’s Champions League.
In pursuit of her passion, Mukansanga approached the Rwandan FA for a refereeing course straight out of secondary school, but she was rejected by the association on account of her age.
Rejected but not discouraged, she taught herself the basics of officiating by studying the game’s laws and handling local games in her community. A year later, she was eventually given the opportunity to pursue her dream.
Mukansanga became a FIFA-badge referee in 2012. The global recognition came four years after she had started handling matches in the Rwandan men’s second division league and the women’s top tier.
From there on, her career has steadily hitched a trajectory that has seen her become one of Africa’s most experienced female referees.