Four women made it to the elite list of FIFA International Referee from India among a total of 18 Indian referees named in the list. Riiohlang Dhar, Ranjita Devi Tekcham, Kanika Barman and Uvena Fernandes are the four women to be named in the list and two of them are from the Northeast region of the country. Dhar is a constable in Meghalaya Police while Tekcham is from Manipur. Barman is from West Bengal while Fernandes is a Goan.
The women have qualified after going through a number of tests conducted by FIFA in Chennai on October 10. Earlier in 2018, Dhar was one of the three FIFA woman referees from India to pass the course for 'elite' referees by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). In the list, Tekcham has been named as a referee while Dhar has been picked as an assistant referee.
Dhar, who hails from Jowai, recalled the support and encouragement she received from her parents to follow her dream. When they passed away, she even considered quitting the sport she loved. “Life was not easy anymore after my parents died, and I started doubting myself and was on the verge of giving up on my dream of becoming a top women referee someday,” Dhar told reporters who met her on Friday. “Whenever I had a match my father, who was also serving in the police, would take a day off and come to watch me play and support me,” she said and added that it were such memories that gave her the strength to carry on.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma took to Twitter to congratulate Dhar on the achievement and said, "Big congratulations to WC Riiohlang Dhar, 1st MLP, for qualifying as a #FIFA International Referee. She is among 4 #women selected from India. Wishing her good luck and many more success!"
Big congratulations to WC Riiohlang Dhar, 1st MLP, for qualifying as a #FIFA International Referee. She is among 4 #women selected from India. Wishing her good luck and many more success!@KirenRijiju @IndiaSports @IndianFootball @MeghalayaPolice pic.twitter.com/reZHr09fAj — Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) October 24, 2020
Dhar said there were times when people criticised her but she chose to listen to the ones who helped her forward and in 2014, she made up her mind that she would continue on the path of achieving her refereeing dream.