Salima Mukansanga revealed that she hopes to inspire women after she officiated a match at the Africa Cup of Nations. Mukansanga was in charge of the Zimbabwe- Guinea match and became the first woman official in the 65-year history of the competition. She has officiated in the Women’s World Cup but never imagined taking charge of the pinnacle of the men’s game in Africa.
“I’m really proud of myself, I’m really happy because it is a big achievement and honor. It’s a privilege, it’s the first step for women – that we have made as women,” Salima Mukansanga said after her game at the Africa Cup of Nations. “At first, I was a bit scared with the pressure and the attention but I was really happy because without that chance, without that moment, that opportunity, nobody could ever write the story about the first-ever woman officiating as a central referee [in an AFCON game].”
“Once I got that chance and I got that opportunity I thought let me show them, let me open the door for the rest of the women, let me give all that I have,” she added. “For me, it was like a final game, I did it like a final and I thought ‘this final will open the door for me and for the rest of the women – and at the next AFCON there could be two women or three women, why not?’ Something that [also] made me very happy was that the players respected me, and respected my decisions. Those big players are professional. They understand. They know. They can understand the situation.”