After brilliantly taking charge of the Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 final Group A match between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria, Bouchra Karboubi made history by joining Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga who was the woman to officiate a AFCON match in Cameroon three years ago.
Speaking to CAFOnline, the Moroccan international shares her unique experience of officiating at Africa’s biggest football event.
How did it feel to be the first woman to referee a match in this competition?
Refereeing this match was an honor for me. During the last AFCON, I was the first woman to do VAR, I was in the final and on this AFCON, I am a central referee. It was a pride for me to represent African women and to represent refereeing in Africa.
What was your reaction after knowing that you were designated for this meeting?
When I found out, the emotion was enormous. I was happy, I’m not saying there was no stress, but the stress stops as soon as we kick off. So, it was a pride for me to represent African women in general.
Can you tell us about your match?
The Guinea Bissau – Nigeria match was a serious challenge for me. We had to show that we are here, the first women’s referee trio. So, we had no room for error because we did our best to live up to the trust that CAF placed in us.
What did you take from this achievement?
It’s true that we got congratulated everywhere. We were very happy especially with the three women for being able to show that we can be there and that we can have the same competitiveness as the men. It wasn’t easy but we were able to show that we can be there and that we can do it.
Is your appointment proof that the CAF Referees Division is doing good work for the development of women’s refereeing in Africa?
It is certain that the CAF refereeing division is really doing an excellent job to develop women’s refereeing in Africa. The fact that we are here, that we are officiating such matches shows the fruit of the work that they are doing.
What if you had a message for young girls who look at this and are amazed?
I will tell young girls who have a passion, who have a goal, to work, to never give up because each path has its own challenges, and we must not give up. We must continue and with the grace of God, we can get where we want to go.