A young Samoan woman from the village of Faleula and Faatoia will make history as the first Samoan assistant referee to take part in the Women’s World Cup U20 Competition.
28 year old, Maria Tamalelagi is now the sole representative for Samoa in the international officiating football arena.
The U20’s Women’s World Cup competition will be held in Papua New Guinea and is set to being on November 13 – December 3rd. The tournament will feature the best officials football has to offer from renowned football countries like Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia and so forth.
However, Tamalelagi will not be alone in representing her island nation; as she is scheduled to assist fellow islander, Finau Vuilvuili from Fiji.
This major accomplishment was not easy feat for Tamalelagi, but having been involved in a variety of sports like rugby, boxing and athletics, at a young age helped her develop her athletic ability.
Once she switched to football, she never looked back.
Now, Tamalelagi is a talented sports woman in her own right and has been a senior football referee in Samoa for the last 5 years.
She is the first Samoan female referee recognized by FIFA to be a match official at its International Tournaments and the only locally based referee eligible to officiate in the OFC Tournaments.
She stated, “Being part of the FIFA Activities is challenging as it is a prestigious event with all the best referees participating, however, I see this as an opportunity for Samoa and local women interested in refereeing soccer to pursue it as a career.”
Tamalelagi is not new to the international arena, she was selected in January by FIFA and the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) to be Football Federation Samoa’s (FFS) representative at the Algarve Cup, which is a global invitational tournament for women’s national football teams, in Portugal.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Football Federation Samoa, Faumuina Michael Kapisi, beamed with pride as he commented on Tamalelagi’s success as well as the lasting impact she has made on football Samoa.
He stated, “She’s the poster child for our young referees. Now they know, you’re not just coming to the field to hold up the stick and no-where to go.
If you commit to this as your profession, learn the rules, and keep your fitness up, there’s an opportunity for you to travel and make some money for yourself.”