Cameroonian only female referee to officiate men's division 1 league
In Cameroon, Carine Atezambong Fomo, the only female referee to officiate in the men's division 1 football league has been shortlisted for the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Carine Atezambong Fomo is a certified physical education and sports teacher in Cameroon. In 2009, she started to officiate in the women's football league where she spent 3 years. Ambitious and determined, Carine decided to join the men's league in 2012.
"I started officiating in a lower women's division. Then, in 2010, I was promoted to the first division for women. Two years later, I officiated my first men's match in league 2. In 2014, given my good performances on the pitch, I was promoted again and since then, I have been officiating the men's league 1 football matches," says Carine Atezambong Fomo, international refereree.
Despite the women's game having the same number of players, and playing duration, for Carine, officiating the men's game feels a bit different.
"It is the intensity and commitment that led me to want to referee men's matches. This is the only difference between men's and women's football. In women's football, there is much more finesse and the rhythm is less sustained than in men's football," she says.
Carine Fomo has officiated many international matches. She was at the African Games in Brazzaville in 2015, and the Africa Women Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 2016. Of all the matches she has officiated in her career, one remains special for Carine.
She adds that: "The international competitions I have participated in are a great pride for me. All the matches I have officiated since 2009 have gone very well. But the final of the Cameroon Cup in 2015 moved me a lot and will remain engraved in my memory. That day, President Paul Biya was in the stands of the stadium. For me, to lead a match in the presence of the president of the republic remains a special and unforgettable moment."
Ahead of the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, FIFA has pre-selected nine women referees on the African continent, among them, is Carine Fomo. The good news, however, unfortunately coincided with the death of her father.
"I was in a very difficult period when I received the invitation letter from FIFA. I had just lost my father. It is thanks to my father that I am at this level today. But I must admit that it was a pleasure to be among the referees pre-selected by FIFA. It's a satisfaction and it shows the good work I do on the field, "submits Carine Atezambong Fomo, international refereree.
Carine will soon take part along with the other shortlisted candidates, in the "Road to Australia/New Zealand" project, which will select the best referees for the next women's FIFA world cup.