Shillong, August 31: Riiohlang Dhar, the FIFA assistant referee from Meghalaya, has been selected by FIFA as a match official for the upcoming Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup India 2022.
“I was so nervous that I had to run alone and I was the only woman. I thought I won’t be able to finish it. The other assistant referee was not there. Now, I am really happy, of course, and relieved too,” 31-year-old Dhar told Meghalaya Monitor on phone from Kolkata.
The selection for the FIFA match officials took place at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
The qualifiers for the Women’s Asian Cup 2022 will be held in Lebanon between September 17-23. Dhar said she would leave for Lebanon next month but the date has not been fixed.
“It is a matter of pride for us that she is one of the two women referees from India to pass the recently conducted stringent FIFA selection process. Congratulations Kong Riiohlang Dhar for this continued progress in sports,” said John F Kharshiing, working president of Meghalaya State Olympic Association.
Dhar works as a constable in 1st Battalion of Meghalaya Police and is posted in Mawiong. Despite financial distress, she showed resilience to achieve the feat.
Dhar, who is originally from Jowai in West Jaintia Hills, was among the 18 Indian referees and among the four women who qualified for the 2020 FIFA Refereeing International Lists last year.
Talking about her experience last year, the frontline worker said it was difficult to continue training as per the FIFA guidelines because of the curfew earlier last year and then the lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“However, after my FIFA selection last year, the (police) department did not put me on rigorous duty and that gave me the chance to utilise the evenings for training. We also got training in how to follow fitness regime indoor and how to avoid injury,” the assistant referee added.
Dhar and her two younger siblings grew up with their relatives after their parents passed away. “We are from a poor family, and often, the necessary support eludes us. That is why my relatives are elated. My aunt called me in the morning and she was so happy,” said Dhar.
When asked how she was planning to spend the rest of the day after a hectic morning schedule, Dhar said, “I wanted to go to Eco Park as we are staying nearby. But Covid-19 restrictions are in place.”
Manipur’s Ranjita Devi Tekcham is another woman assistant referee for FIFA from the North East.