Female referee Yamashita: Qatar debut is ‘a dream’

Tokyo, Aug 01 (EFE).- Yoshimi Yamashita is one of three female officials who will debut at a men’s World Cup in Qatar, something the Japanese referee has described as “a dream” and “a great responsibility”.

Yamashita (Tokyo, 1986) has been selected by FIFA to join 36 referees in Qatar after a long career in national and international championships, including the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the AFC Champions League and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“Frankly, I didn’t expect an opportunity like this. I feel a great responsibility to participate as a referee, and to represent Japan and Asia,” Yamashita tells Efe at the Japan Football Association (JFA) training facility in Tokyo.

Stéphanie Frappart (France) and Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda) will be joining her in Qatar, as well as three assistant referees, at a world cup that will go down in history as the first FIFA men’s world cup to include female officials in charge of matches.

For Yamashita, refereeing at a men’s World Cup will not change much as it is the “same old sport” although she says she is preparing physically to adapt to the speed of the game.

She trains for two hours, six days a week, and also prepares for the tournament mentally so she can enjoy the experience without the “burden that comes with great responsibility.”

Once she gets the ball rolling, she “feels more focus than pressure,” she says, and before the game, she tries to transform pressure into energy.

When asked what defines her style, Yamashita highlights her ability to remain calm during matches, and that she tries to be fair when judging each situation.

Yamashita says she has not suffered discrimination throughout her career in Japan, where she feels “that the situation is improving” although she adds that in the early days of her career comments about her gender abounded.

“But these days I don’t usually hear those kinds of words anymore, so I think it’s a sign that something has changed for the better and that my fellow referees have earned people’s trust.”

The official is confident that “more women will pursue their dreams” to become high-level officials and Yamashita says she will continue “helping to raise more awareness in the football family” of diversity. EFE


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