Chennai: A Dindigul woman has broken new ground in a men’s game in the New Year. G. Ruba Devi, 26, has become Tamil Nadu’s first international woman referee in football. According to top referees, the badge of honour from Fifa, the international governing body of the sport, is an endorsement to Ruba’s dedication.
Ruba joins four others as India’s international women referees. “Becoming a Fifa referee had been my goal for a long time but I never expected to become one so soon,” Ruba said.
Women don’t play football with the same enthusiasm as men in India and even fewer women take up refereeing. Although Ruba is a pioneer in every sense of the word, she doesn’t feel like a trailblazer. “Football is close to my heart and refereeing will help me continue my association with the sport for a long time.
These days a lot of women are showing interest in refereeing,” said Ruba, one of the five Fifa women referees in the country.
Ruba’s inspiration is Tamil Nadu’s K. Sankar, the only Indian till date to have officiated at the Fifa World Cup.
P. Bagavathi Raj, Tamil Nadu Football Association’s head of referees lauded Ruba for her achievement.
Women Fifa referees from India
1. Bentla D’ Coth (Kerala) (she is serving suspension now), 2. Chaitali Paul (West Bengal), 3. Maria Rebello (Goa), 4. G. Ruba Devi (TN), 5. Monika Jana (West Bengal).